Coping with Panic Attacks

A panic attack is the body’s reaction to fear, however, it happens in normal situations when there is no need to feel fear.  They are very common, occurring in about 5% of the population (1 in 20 people) …. Read more ….… and can be defined as a sudden feeling of fear, terror or apprehension and can be accompanied by some physical feelings such as –

 – Pins and needles (mainly in the hands and feet)

 – Dizziness

 – Increased Heart-rate

 – Increased Breath-rate

 – Chest Pains

 – Sweating

 – Jelly-legs

 – Difficulty in Breathing

 – Dis-associative feelings (or feelings of unreality)

 – Tingling Sensations

 – Chest pains

Each sufferer will experience panic attacks in their own individual way.  Often, unhealthy thoughts are present with these symptoms that can exacerbate the fearful feeling.  Such thoughts can be – I’m losing control’, ‘I’m going to terribly embarrass myself’, ‘I’m going crazy’ and ‘I’m going to die’.  These thoughts are common and understandable in light of the symptoms that are being felt, however, they can keep people feeling anxious, creating a vicious cycle and can then create a strong fear of having a panic attack (fearing the fear).

Often, the natural reaction is to leave the situation and to avoid it from then on.  This brings temporary relief but increases the likelihood of further apprehension and can often start a negative cycle.  For example, if a panic attack is experienced in a supermarket, we may avoid supermarkets.  If a panic attack is then experience somewhere else, we have somewhere else to avoid and this can continue until the individual has a long list of places they feel they cannot go which can have a great impact upon their lives.

10 facts to help cope with panic attacks –

1 – Panic attacks are normal reactions that are exaggerated – they are not dangerous

2 – The feelings will soon pass – they are not harmful and nothing worse will happen

3 – Think in the here and Now – Thinking about what might happen is not helpful.

4 – Accept the feelings and allow them to run through.  This will make them disappear more quickly. 

5 – Rate you level of anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10 and observe the level as it decreases.

6 – Stay in the situation.  Avoidance is a short term coping strategy.  By staying in the situation, you are proving to yourself that you can survive in that situation.

7 – Take slow, deep breaths from you stomach.  Say the word ‘relax’ as you breathe out.

8 – Notice what is happening with your body – stay with the present, being in the here and now.

9 – Consciously relax your muscles.  Feel you shoulders drop and allow yourself to relax.

10 – Concentrate on something else.  Allow you attention to be absorbed into something different.

Panic attacks occur for a number of reasons and it’s when your fear reaction has become over-sensitive and is easily triggered.  People who are tired, stressed or under lots of pressure are more susceptible to panic attacks.  The feelings are not harmful and they do not indicate that there’s anything wrong.

Understanding what is going on can be mean that half the battle is won.  It’s always a good idea to have a sound understanding and there’s lots of information and resources on the internet to help.

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