Everyone experiences stress, anxiety, fear, or panic at certain times. It’s a human’s natural response to fearful or dangerous circumstances. But, some people experience apprehensions more frequently, without any evident reason.
What is a panic attack?
When a panic attack strikes an individual, they feel sudden unexplained fear and anxiety in an ordinary or non-threatening situation. Our brain and nervous system play a crucial role in perceiving or handling the stress that develops from an unknown circumstance. Panic attacks can develop when a person worries too much about anything or a situation. When a panic attack strikes, a person may experience the following symptoms:
- Increased heartbeat
- Profuse sweating
- Pain in the center of the chest
- Choking sensation
- Difficulty in breathing
- An intense feeling of losing control or terror
- Shivering or trembling
- Numbness or tingling sensation in fingers or toes
Sometimes, the patient may confuse a panic attack with a heart attack, but both are different. In a panic attack, people may feel chest pain mainly in the center of the chest, while in a heart attack, the chest pain radiates to the arm, shoulder, back, neck, or jaw.
A person with a history of anxiety disorders, depression, other mental illnesses, or addiction to drugs or alcohol is more prone to panic attacks.
How to manage a panic attack?
Panic attacks can occur to anyone and anywhere for unknown fear. They happen quickly, and a person can experience worsening symptoms within a few minutes. The following facts can help you in a panic attack and can prevent them from happening:
- Recognize your trigger factors
You should know the conditions or things that stimulate a panic attack. Stressors or triggers can be traumatic events, stress during daily life, traffic, excessive caffeine intake, smoking, history of abuse, office stress, sudden shouting, not completing work till the deadline, being stuck alone in the elevator, or debate with people. Understanding and avoiding these stressful triggers with the belief that this panic situation will pass and you will be okay will help keep you grounded.
- Regular practicing mindfulness
During a panic attack, a patient feels detachment from reality. Practicing mindfulness helps you to connect with reality and can fight your panic attack. The mindfulness technique increases your focus on your surrounding and your emotional state, which manage stress and help you relax.
- Focus on an object nearby
When a panic attack happens, shifting your focus from the trigger to something nearby can be helpful. According to numerous studies, some people with the panic disorder find focusing all their attention during a panic attack on something else very beneficial. Therefore, if a panic attack strikes, shift all your energy to an object in your sight and describe all possible details in your mind, and you will find a breakthrough in your panic attack.
- Practice muscle relaxation therapy
When a person suffers from a panic attack, all muscles of the body tense and muscle relaxation therapy can help stop a panic attack during its course by controlling muscle tension and promoting relaxation. During muscle relaxation therapy, you can identify areas of muscle tension while you have a panic attack and learn how to relax these specific muscles. This technique will be more beneficial if you practice it regularly.
- Indulge in light exercises
Keeping yourself active and doing regular exercises not only improve overall health and augment your mental wellness. You can gradually include physical activities in your daily routines, such as walking, yoga, aerobics, cycling, swimming, or dancing. But, before starting exercise, consult your doctor, as these new situations can trigger additional anxiety in people with panic disorder.
- Practice deep breathing
When patients experience a panic attack, their breathing becomes fast and shallow. Practicing deep breathing reduces this hyperventilating symptom during an attack. Daily practicing deep breathing reduces cortisol hormone (stress hormone) levels that automatically lower stress.
- Home remedies
Traditional remedy, such as inhaling lavender, helps reduce stress and panic attacks. The inhalation of lavender essential oil has a calming and relaxing effect.
Repeating reassuring words during a panic attack, such as I’ll be alright, can be comforting and relaxing.
Spending time in nature or any relaxing place can help manage stress and anxiety.
- Seek help from professionals
If you are suffering from frequent panic attacks, you can consult counselors. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other types of counseling can help people manage their symptoms. Exposure-based CBT, in which your therapist will expose you to trigger factors and help you to overcome this situation.
- Take appropriate medicines
The doctors can prescribe benzodiazepines, anti-anxiety drugs, or antidepressants based on your symptoms. These drugs help treat the symptoms of panic attacks.
It is not always possible to prevent a panic attack, but the above techniques can help you to manage stressful situations.