Do you ever feel like you’re losing control of your mind and body?
Like your heart is racing, you can’t breathe, and the world around you suddenly feels strange and unreal?
If so, you may be experiencing panic attacks. Panic attacks are intense periods of fear and anxiety that strike without warning.
Keep on reading to get the full scoop and find out how to overcome your panic attacks!
Panic Attacks 101: What Are They, Symptoms and Causes?
Do you ever feel like you’re losing control of yourself for no reason? Having a panic attack can make you feel terrified and helpless. Panic attacks are intense episodes of fear that happen quickly and peak within minutes.
- What are the signs? A racing heartbeat, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, or chills. You may feel disconnected from reality or like you’re dying.
- What causes them? Panic attacks are usually a symptom of an anxiety disorder and the result of a “fight or flight” response. Triggers can include stressful life events, medical conditions, or genetics. The fear of having another attack can also trigger panic.
- How are they diagnosed? See your doctor for an evaluation. Based on your symptoms and medical history, they will determine if you meet the criteria for panic disorder or another anxiety disorder. There are no lab tests to diagnose panic attacks.
- How are they treated? Treatment options include therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps change negative thought patterns and behaviors. Anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants can help prevent or minimize panic attacks.
- Self-help strategies: Practice deep breathing, meditation, journaling or gentle exercise like yoga. Challenge your negative and irrational thoughts. Learn your triggers and warning signs so you can either avoid or prepare for them. Connecting to others can help you feel less alone and fearful.
The good news is panic attacks are very treatable. With the right treatment and self-care, you can overcome them, gain control over your symptoms and start living freely again. There is hope and healing ahead!
What Causes Panic Attacks and Who Experiences Them?
Do you ever feel like you’re losing control and your body and mind are betraying you? If so, you may be experiencing panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear and anxiety that come on quickly and without warning.
What causes these terrifying episodes and who’s at risk? Panic attacks can be triggered by stressful life events, trauma, or even genetics. If someone in your family struggles with panic disorder or other anxiety issues, you may be more prone to attacks yourself.
Certain health conditions like hypoglycemia or heart problems can also trigger panic attacks in some people. But in many cases, there’s no obvious cause. Panic attacks can strike anyone at any time, though symptoms usually appear before the age of 25, but they might appear as late as the mid-30s, according to a research.
While panic attacks themselves are not usually dangerous, the symptoms can be frightening. Your heart races, you sweat and shake, feel dizzy or nauseous, and experience shortness of breath. The anxiety and loss of control at the moment can make you feel like you’re dying or going crazy.
The Vicious Cycle of Panic: How Panic Attacks Prolong Themselves?
The vicious cycle begins
Have you ever felt like your panic attacks come out of nowhere and spiral out of control? Unfortunately, panic attacks tend to perpetuate themselves in a vicious cycle. Here’s how it works:
- You experience frightening physical symptoms, like a racing heartbeat, dizziness, or tingling sensations. This triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response, flooding you with adrenaline and cortisol.
- You catastrophize and interpret these normal bodily sensations as dangerous, which fuels your anxiety and panic. Your mind races with worrying thoughts like “I’m having a heart attack!” or “I can’t breathe!”.
- Your anxiety causes more frightening physical symptoms, like chest pain, hot flashes, or hyperventilation. This confirms your initial fearful thoughts and the cycle continues.
To break the cycle, you must challenge those catastrophic thoughts. Remind yourself that the symptoms are harmless and will pass. Take slow, deep breaths to help lower your heart rate and stay calm. The symptoms are not dangerous and will not last forever.
This vicious cycle can perpetuate panic attacks, but with practice, you can break free from it. Be patient and gentle with yourself. Staying aware of your thoughts and bodily sensations, and responding with self-compassion is the first step to overcoming panic. You’ve got this! With time and practice, you will get better at short-circuiting panic attacks before they start.
Techniques to Help Stop a Panic Attack in Its Tracks
A panic attack can feel terrifying and uncontrollable, but there are techniques you can use to help stop one in its tracks. When panic strikes, try the following:
Focus on your breathing
Take deep, slow breaths from your diaphragm to help slow your breathing and heart rate. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Counting your breaths can help focus your mind.
Relax your body
Consciously relax your body one part at a time. Start with your toes and feet, then ankles, calves, and knees. Work your way up, releasing tension in your thighs, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms, and face. Progressive muscle relaxation can help calm your mind and body.
Challenge negative thoughts
Try to identify negative thoughts and replace them with more positive, realistic ones. Remind yourself that the panic will pass and you are not in any real danger. You’ve been through this before and recovered.
Do some light exercise like walking or yoga, call a friend, engage in a hobby, or do mental exercises like counting backward from 100 by sevens. A distraction can help shift your mind from the panic and make the symptoms feel less frightening.
Seek professional help if needed
If panic attacks are an ongoing problem, consider seeing a therapist. They can help determine the underlying cause of your panic attacks and provide targeted treatment like exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or medication to help prevent and better cope with panic.
The next time panic starts to rise, try utilizing a few of these techniques. Panic attacks are distressing but remember, the symptoms are not dangerous and will pass. With practice, you can gain more control over your panic and live with less fear of future attacks. You’ve got this! Stay strong and be kind to yourself.
Lifestyle Changes and Strategies to Reduce Panic Attacks
Panic attacks can feel terrifying and debilitating, but the good news is there are effective strategies you can use to gain more control over them. Making certain lifestyle changes and developing coping mechanisms are key to overcoming panic attacks.
Practice relaxation techniques
Using techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation can help lower anxiety and induce a sense of calm. Take time each day to sit quietly, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Start by taking slow, deep breaths from your diaphragm to help slow your heart rate and calm feelings of panic.
Limit alcohol and caffeine
Both alcohol and caffeine can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and panic. Cut back or eliminate sources of caffeine like coffee, tea, and energy drinks. Limit alcohol consumption or avoid it altogether. Staying properly hydrated by drinking plenty of water can also help you feel better overall.
Connect with others
Social support from family and friends can help tremendously in overcoming panic attacks. Connecting to others helps combat feelings of isolation and hopelessness. Talk to trusted loved ones about your experiences and how they can support you. You may also want to consider joining a support group.
With practice and persistence, these lifestyle changes and coping strategies can help you gain confidence in managing panic attacks. You can overcome them and start living with more freedom and less fear. Stay dedicated to your progress, be patient with yourself, and keep moving forward one day at a time.
So, there you have it. Panic attacks are scary and debilitating, but the good news is they are highly treatable. The most important thing is not to feel ashamed or alone. Talk to your doctor, a therapist, or a trusted friend.
Try different coping strategies and find what works for you. Deep breathing, challenging negative thoughts, relaxation techniques, exercising – give them a shot. You have the power to overcome panic and live freely again.
Stay committed to your progress and be patient with yourself. Together, through understanding and action, we can beat this. You’ve got this! Now go out there and start reclaiming your life.