Understanding Panic Attacks

Panic attacks come with overwhelming physical and emotional symptoms. Physical symptoms can include a rapidly increasing pulse and even difficulty breathing. Panic attacks are intense and brief mental health events that may indicate the presence of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Individuals may experience panic attacks, however, without an underlying condition.

When Panic Attacks Happen

Panic attacks may appear after a long and steady ramping up throughout the day, during which time the individual feels worried and stressed without any direct cause. During this ramp-up to the panic attack, the individual is typically able to go on with her day.

In the aftermath of a panic attack, the patient can feel extremely exhausted, and the after effects can last for as long as 24 hours. The intensity of a panic attack means that the patient often lives in fear that another one may occur,

In some cases, people have panic attacks on a regular basis. In these scenarios, the individual may have an underlying panic disorder.

Physical Responses to the Internal

Under threatening circumstances, it is normal for a person to feel extreme physical reactions such as increased pulse or heart rate. In a panic attack, however, the patient has the same physical symptoms without any actual threat being present.

This disconnect between reality and their physical reactions can make those with panic attacks feel as though they are losing their minds. The stigma of mental illness, as a result, can prevent individuals with panic attacks from getting help.

It is important for people to remember that panic attacks are common and treatable. Research has shown that as many as 1 in 75 Americans will have a panic attack at some point. What’s more, nearly 1 million U.S. citizens have panic attacks every month.

Panic Attack Symptoms

When someone is having a panic attack, they may feel an array of symptoms, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Chest pains
  • Shortness of breath
  • Losing control of one’s body
  • Weakness
  • Vision issues
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Tingling in the appendages
  • A sense of imminent threat or danger

Since the symptoms of panic attacks mimic those of a heart attack, many believe them to be cardiac episodes. If there is any confusion over whether an episode is a panic attack or a heart attack, call 911 immediately.

How to Stop a Panic Attack

Receiving help from a mental health professional is the best way to stop panic attacks. Until someone can get into see a professional, however, there are some techniques they can use to ameliorate the symptoms of a panic attack.

Centered Breathing

Focus on your breath with your eyes closed, following the breath as it goes in and out. As you follow the breath, work on slowing it down. If any negative thoughts enter your mind, imagine them traveling out of you as you exhale.

Identify the Panic Attack

Identifying what you are going through as a panic attack can help stem its impact. Acknowledge the fact that you are experiencing a panic attack and that there is no imminent danger in the moment. This can help neutralize its power.

Ground Yourself in Reality

Ground yourself in the reality of the outside world by focusing on three of your senses and cataloging what you sense.

Recite a Mantra

Consider selecting a mantra that you can use to calm and center yourself during the attack. Repeat your mantra over and over again slowly.

These are just some of the techniques available. Working with a professional counselor can help you specialize an approach that works best for you.