• Understanding and Learning How to Cope with Panic Attacks

    by Caroline Ryther
    on Jul 30th, 2018

One moment you are going about your day as per usual, and the next you’re feeling like there’s no air in your lungs anymore. Your heart starts pounding, your head spinning, and you feel as nauseous as ever, but underlying it all is a sense of fear and helplessness that you can’t seem to control.

If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack in your life, then these symptoms most likely sound familiar to you—perhaps too familiar.

Believe it or not, panic attacks are more common than you might think. In fact, 2.4 million people in the United States (almost 2% of the adults 18-54 years old) suffer from panic attacks, and symptoms usually don’t appear until early adulthood. Panic attacks can be incredibly frightening, but the scariest thing is that they happen suddenly, often for no clear reason.

However, the good news is that there are ways for you to cope with them, but to do that, you first need to understand what triggers them and how you can calm yourself down in case you experience one.

Recognizing a Panic Attack and Its Symptoms

Panic attacks are sudden, highly intense, and overwhelming surges of panic, fear, or anxiety, that are followed by a number of both physical and emotional symptoms. They are usually triggered by a stressful situation (which is when your body’s defenses kick in, even though there’s no real danger coming your way), but they can also occur randomly, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Aside from feelings of dying, sudden terror, and loss of control, symptoms can include chest pain, profuse sweating, hyperventilation, nausea, and dizziness. A lot of people mistake panic for heart attacks, and there have even been those who said that it felt like they were having a stroke. The symptoms can last anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour, but there have been cases which lasted for over an hour at a time.

To sum it up, common symptoms include (but are not limited to, seeing that people have been known to experience different panic attack symptoms):

More often than not, people who experience a panic attack end up becoming scared of the next one, which leads to them “fearing the fear”, and their physical symptoms getting worse. Seeing that nobody wants to feel like this all the time, there are those who even begin to avoid situations in which they think their panic attacks can be triggered (e.g. crowded and public places, enclosed spaces, etc).

What to Do if You’re Having a Panic Attack

As difficult as it may be, you cannot allow these symptoms to become debilitating and change your lifestyle. When a panic attack strikes, it’s important for you to recognize it and remember that the symptoms will not result in a heart attack or cause you any other physical harm.

What you can also do and should do is:

Can You Reduce Your Chances of Having a Panic Attack?

If you find yourself regularly experiencing panic attacks, then it might be a good idea to consult a therapist about this problem. You can work out together what might be triggering these episodes and learn how to develop coping mechanisms. Your therapist might even give cognitive behavioral therapy a shot in order to get to fully understand the thoughts causing this panic. In some cases, your doctor will prescribe you drugs to help you deal with the attacks, but it’s important to know that medication works best in combination with therapy and lifestyle changes.

What you can also do to reduce the stress in your life and lower the chances of having another panic attack is exercise regularly, change up your dietary habits, try yoga, and meditation for a peace of mind.

If you know someone who suffers from panic or even anxiety disorder, don’t hesitate to contact the Neuroscience Center. Dr. Best will determine the best course of action and help you get through this troubling period of your life.


Schedule a consultation:

Phone: 847-306-8938

Email: pm@mind.md

Author Caroline Ryther

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