If you have ever had a panic attack (also known as an anxiety attack) you know the overwhelming fear that comes with it. A panic attack is a sudden onset of very intense physical symptoms that may include the following:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feelings of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
- Chills or heat sensations
- Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)
- Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- Fear of dying
If you experience these symptoms on a recurring basis then change your behaviors because you want to avoid having an attack in the future, you may have panic disorder. Due to the intensity of the symptoms that mimic those of heart disease, thyroid problems, breathing disorders, and other illnesses, people with panic disorder often make many visits to emergency rooms or doctors’ offices, convinced they have a life-threatening issue. Panic attacks are extremely unpleasant and can be very frightening. As a result, people who experience repeated panic attacks often become worried about having another attack and may make changes to their lifestyle. For example, avoiding exercise to keep their heart rate low, or avoiding certain places where they have had an attack in the past. Those who struggle with anxiety may not necessarily experience panic attacks. Although anxiety is often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as a racing heart or knots in your stomach, what makes a panic attack different from other general anxiety is the intensity and duration of the symptoms. Panic attacks typically reach their peak level of intensity in 10 minutes or less and then begin to subside. When I work with someone who experiences panic attacks, I encourage them to visualize the panic like a wave that has a beginning, a crest, and then eventually comes down and disappears. Here are some steps to consider to ride the wave of a panic attack:
Notice: If you are paying attention to the physical cues your body is sending, you can begin to recognize the signals that a panic attack is coming. Noticing those signals does not mean you can stop the wave. It does mean that you can be a bit more prepared which will help make the process less scary and easier to ride out.
Name: When you recognize that a panic attack is underway, go ahead and name it for what it is and what you can expect. For example you may tell yourself “My body is having a physical response of worry and trying to alert me. I will probably feel uncomfortable for about 10 minutes, but if I relax as best as I can, this wave will come back down and I will feel better.” Later, you can take some time to consider if there was a trigger and problem solve for the future.
Nourish: Once the panic response has subsided, make sure to nourish your body and your mind. This means eating or drinking something healthy as a way to replenish the energy that was expended during the time of high anxiety. Also, remember to praise the process that you were able to tolerate with success. You didn’t make the panic attack go away, but you did let your body get out the negative energy and then moved on with your day. This is showing compassion and is nourishment to your soul.
One of the best ways to get better at working through panic attacks is to work with a therapist. They can coach you through this process and help develop additional strategies to reduce the stress that may be contributing to the problem. With practice and support you can become stronger and more aware.
visit:https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/panic-disorder-agoraphobia/symptoms for more information about anxiety and panic attacks.