panic Attack reaction

What are Panic Attacks and How to Manage Them

AlsoA panic attack is an intense episode of fear that may be tough to manage. Identifiable or unidentifiable stressors can trigger panic attacks, and they can occur at any hour of the day or night.

Sometimes, people who experience panic attacks may feel like they can’t breathe or feel like they will die. Some people may end up going to the emergency room with fear that they are experiencing a heart attack.

However, it may be possible to reduce the severity of panic attacks and learn appropriate coping skills to help us deal with them.

Are Panic Attacks Considered Dangerous?

A panic attack is not necessarily dangerous, but even 10 minutes of terror or fear can significantly increase stress levels. Several studies have noted that chronic stress may open the gate to mental disorders and physical diseases such as stroke, heart disease, and cancer.

woman having panic attack

Panic Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. If you have experienced a panic attack in the past, you may likely experience one in the future. Hence, It is essential to learn how to manage panic attacks early.

What are the Symptoms of Panic Attacks?

Although symptoms can vary from one person to another, the most common are:

  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Tingling or numbness in the extremities
  • Hot flashes
  • Chest pain or chest pressure
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • The feeling of having to get away
  • feeling as if your throat is closing
  • Choking sensation
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • fear of dying, losing control
  • fear of “going crazy”
  • Depersonalization

How to Avoid Panic Attacks in your Daily Life

It is essential to incorporate wellness and relaxation into your everyday life to help manage panic attacks. Even if you don’t feel panic attack symptoms, incorporating beneficial coping strategies may help prevent or decrease panic attacks and their symptoms. Proper coping strategies may help reduce a panic attacks’ frequency, intensity, and duration.

How to Manage Panic Attacks

People who suffer from daily panic attacks are more likely to develop depression, abuse substances, and attempt suicide. Luckily, panic attacks can be treated and managed.

For the successful treatment of panic attacks and disorders, both psychotherapy and medication are helpful. Medication or psychotherapy are used as stand-alone treatments or used as combined treatments.

These are some general tips that may help people manage panic attacks more effectively:

1. Try to Decrease and Manage Worries

Panic attacks can cause us to focus on frightening aspects of the situation and not the entire picture. Panic causes our minds to have “blinders” — focusing solely on fears and threats while disregarding the larger context. CBT helps us reframe our thinking and manage our thoughts, helping us reduce anxiety-provoking thoughts.

2. Label Thoughts and Feelings

Sometimes we have several thoughts that come to mind during a panic attack. Labeling these thoughts and feelings may help distract you from disturbing thoughts and help you increase calm.

3. Use Positive Affirmative Language

Studies have shown that positive affirmations may be helpful. We can use positive affirmative language to help combat the severity of panic attacks. It doesn’t matter if you believe your positive affirmations or not; you can fake it till you make it. For example:

 Instead of thinking:

“It’s terrible.”

“I’m feeling scared, uncertain, and overwhelmed.”

We can think:

“A lot of people experience stress and panic attacks.”

“It’s normal to feel like this, and it’s not dangerous.”

“I can manage this, and I am not afraid.”

4. Diaphragmatic Breathing

Relaxed, slow, diaphragmatic breathing can help turn on your body’s relaxation response. It can also produce a tranquilizing effect. Diaphragmatic breathing reduces stress and enables you to calm down. Short, shallow breaths may make panic symptoms worse. Slower and deeper breathing may help you relax and feel more at ease.

5. Distract Yourself

Occupying yourself and doing things can help reduce panic thinking. Distracting our minds from thoughts that induce or exacerbate panic can be helpful. You can choose several activities to distract yourself but try to avoid social media, shows, or movies.

You can try organizing your desk, cleaning out your room, counting, reading something positive, calling a family member or friend, or playing a game. Whatever you choose to do, it should help calm your mind.

6. Visualize a Positive Day/Week/Month

Visualizing may likewise be considered a sort of distraction, but it may help you train your brain to increase positive thinking and reduce anxious thoughts. You can envision happy events or things happening right now, later today, this week, or this month. If you want to include a creative process, you can also draw those happy events if you are at home.

7. Practice Cognitive Distancing

Ask yourself, “Is this fear based on fact or a feeling and fear?”.

Sometimes, our minds automatically think about the wrong things that may occur and bring strife, but that doesn’t mean that something terrible will happen. Cognitive distancing is a strategy that requires objective evidence. Ask yourself: “Do I have any evidence that something bad is going to happen?”; “Can something positive occur instead”? This objectivity helps you separate from your anxious thoughts.

8. Move your Body

Exercise influences mental health. It may help people manage panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. Running and jogging are shown to lessen negative thoughts and increase dopamine levels in your body. Increased dopamine can help boost happiness and pleasure. Exercise can also reduce stress hormone levels, which can help you better manage fear and terror.

9. Start Journaling

Panic attacks can cause a variety of mental and physical symptoms. But it may be challenging to manage worrying thoughts and fears. However, journaling may have calming and healing effects. Writing down our worries and anxiety-producing thoughts may lessen their impact. We can also list as many positive events that occurred today or this week. Keep our eyes directed on the positive and not on the negative. Keep a journal every day, even when it’s calm and joyful.

If you have frequent panic attacks, you can write 20 positive things that you notice throughout the day. You can keep a journal with you to record the things that you see. Journaling may help you focus more on positive events than thoughts that bring you panic or fear.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness may help reduce panic thoughts and decrease stress, but it also changes the structure and function of your brain and increases calm. Also, Mindfulness may help you see your fears and thoughts differently. Mindfulness brings you to the present moment and avoids ruminating on the future or the past. It may help you manage panic attacks and may help improve your quality of life.

Some of these general tips may be helpful to some people. Still, if you are experiencing panic attacks, you may benefit from speaking to your doctor or a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Moreover, if you are experiencing severe panic or difficulty controlling your panic attacks, please speak to your doctor right away.

*All the information published in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Any information provided here is offered in generic form. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

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