It doesn’t matter how well you think you handle stress, or how much you prepare for an upcoming event—sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you’ll end up facing a panic attack. Panic attacks are something that many people experience but most people don’t know the right ways to cope with them. Every time you have a panic attack, it’s as if your body is sending a distress signal to alert your instincts that something is amiss. Even though not everyone experiences panic attacks and there are people who suffer from them on a much lesser scale than others do, there are still some helpful tips out there that can help ease the symptoms when they strike.
What is a Panic Attack?
A panic attack is a sudden feeling of extreme anxiety that can be debilitating. In a panic state, your body is flooded with adrenaline and your normal sense of calm is gone. Panic attacks can happen anywhere, at any time and without warning. They’re different from normal anxiety because they’re sudden and peak quickly, whereas, with anxiety, you’re generally constantly on edge until you learn to cope with it. While some people experience panic attacks on an occasional basis, others can experience them chronically and to a much more severe extent. There isn’t one particular cause for panic attacks, but there are a variety of factors that can contribute to them, including health conditions, environmental factors, and emotional issues. Panic attacks are more commonly seen in people who have an anxiety disorder or who suffer from other mental health concerns, but anyone can experience them.
Why Do People Experience Panic Attacks?
As discussed, there isn’t one particular cause for panic attacks, but there are a number of potential factors that contribute to them. Some of the more common reasons why people experience panic attacks include:
Psychological distress: Some people have a history of trauma, have experienced or are currently experiencing an extreme level of stress, or are going through an emotionally challenging time in their lives. All of these can put someone at a higher risk of experiencing panic attacks.
Biological sensitivity: While we don’t know the exact cause of the biological aspects of a panic attack, there are studies that show that the parts of our brain responsible for fear and anxiety are hyperactivated when we’re in the midst of a panic attack.
Medication-induced anxiety: Some people experience panic attacks as a side effect of other medications, like antidepressants, antipsychotics, and beta-blockers.
Medical conditions: Some medical conditions, including chronic illnesses and other health problems, can also contribute to the likelihood of experiencing panic attacks.
Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack
Intense feelings of anxiety: The one sure sign that you’re experiencing a panic attack is intense feelings of anxiety. You may feel like you’re short of breath, your heart rate may be racing, and you may even feel like you’re going to collapse.
Feelings of being out of control: When you’re experiencing a panic attack, you may feel out of control. You may feel as if you don’t have any control over the emotions you’re feeling.
Sweating: During a panic attack, you may notice that you’re sweating more than usual. If you notice that your palms are sweaty, your armpits are drenched, or there’s a sheen of sweat on your brow, these could also be signs that you’re experiencing a panic attack.
Trembling: During a panic attack, you may also feel as though you’re trembling. You might notice that your hands and fingers are shaking, and they may be feeling numb as well.
Dry mouth or other oral problems: Another common sign that you’re experiencing a panic attack is the sensation of your mouth going dry. You may also notice that your mouth is tingling or that it feels numb. You might also have a metallic taste in your mouth, which is another sign that you’re experiencing a panic attack.
How to Cease a Panic Attack?
If you’re faced with a panic attack and want to know how to cease it, there are a few different things you can do to get through it.
Breathe: One of the first things you can do is simply breathe. It’s natural for our body to feel a bit stressed when we’re experiencing a panic attack—and when we’re stressed, we tend to hold our breath. Taking slow, deep breaths can help you to calm down and reverse that process. Focus on your breathing, and try to let the rest of the world fall away.
Reverse the fight-or-flight response: In addition to taking slow, deep breaths, you can also try to relax your muscles and reverse the “fight-or-flight” response that’s happening in your body. You can do this by putting your hand on your belly, folding your legs, and focusing on your breathing.
Meditate or engage in self-care activities: If you have the time and space to do so, you can use those activities to help you to focus on yourself, de-stress, and focus on the present moment.
Try meditation and other self-care activities
If you’re feeling like your panic attacks are getting worse and more frequent, it’s important to seek professional help. Panic attacks are highly treatable, though, so don’t let them hold you back from living your life. There are many self-care activities you can do to help you to feel better and to manage your anxiety. Some of these include:
Yoga: Yoga is a great way to practice mindfulness and can be helpful for managing anxiety and panic attacks.
Coloring: Coloring is a great activity that can be both relaxing and therapeutic.
Journaling: Journaling is a great way to get your feelings and thoughts out and can help with self-exploration and self-reflection.
Engaging in positive self-talk: Talking positively to yourself can help to shift your perspective, which in turn can help you to feel better.
Don't let it stop you from your activities
If you’re currently experiencing panic attacks, you may be worried that they’ll stop you from your activities. The key is to learn how to manage your anxiety and panic attacks so that they don’t stop you from doing the things you love. If you’re experiencing panic attacks, it’s important to seek professional help. If you want to prevent your anxiety from getting worse, it’s a good idea to start practicing these self-care activities as soon as possible. It’s important to remember that panic attacks are normal and that they don’t mean that something is wrong with you. There are things that you can do to lessen the frequency and severity of your panic attacks, though. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor, get in touch with a therapist, or try different methods to help you to feel better.
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