Don't Panic - How to Overcome Panic Attacks

Rob Esmund By Rob Esmund, 10th Sep 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/s.lc0f-m/
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Wellness

Panic attacks areunderstandably quite frightening for those who suffer from them. The power of the mind though, is huge, and it is often possible to overcome the problem with a few simple ploys

Beat the Panic Devil

Those who have suffered a panic attack know well the uncomfortable physical symptoms that occur alongside the distressing mental anguish and fear of impending doom. The physical symptoms of racing heartbeat, dizziness, blurred vision, and difficulty breathing are enough in themselves to instil further fear and cause the attack to get worse before it gets better before it gets better. It does, of course, get better, usually within a fairly short time, just by itself. Often though, there remains the underlying anxiety that there may be further attacks in the future. Thus, unfortunately, a panic attack is rarely an isolated event, but more usually the first of several.

A person who suffers a panic attack should first help themselves by implementing measures that will be explained, and then, by seeking help from professionals if necessary.

Self Help
During a perceived emergency or threat, which is what a panic attack is all about, our breathing rate and pattern change so that, instead of breathing fairly slowly from our lower lungs, we begin to breathe rapidly and shallowly from the upper part of our lungs. This hyperventilation causes an imbalance in blood chemistry that explains a lot of the physical symptoms of a panic attack. However, by changing your manner of breathing you can reverse these effects and bring your body into a more calm and relaxed state.

The calming down phase takes a little longer than the initial arousal of the body via the sympathetic system. Our bodies have evolved to react as quickly as possible to danger and our systems go into overdrive. Once the danger is past the body’s various systems gradually recover their equilibrium. With practice you can help your body recover itself more quickly. With self training you can learn to slow down your breathing and inhale purposefully into your lower lungs. This abdominal breathing helps to re-establish the proper balance in the air-ways between oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Breathing and controlling techniques will get you through an attack, but, in addition to this you need to help yourself into a state of mind where panic attacks become less likely to occur in the first place.

This can be achieved through understanding and a change in attitude. Once you understand that panic attacks are simply an error of the body’s defence mechanism, together with the consequent physical changes that are normal processes, but misdirected, then you can take control of the situation. Your anxiety level with regard to having a further attack is reduced because you know it will not harm you and you know how to control it.

In order to reduce the likelihood of panic attacks recurring you should endeavour to get some professional help, but also recognise that the panic attack itself won’t hurt you. It’s the fear of the attack that causes you grief.

If you check with your doctor and are given a clean bill of health, then you MUST believe that panic attacks are not going to kill you, nor do they mean that you are losing your mind. They are simply an inappropiate response to sub-conscious stress or else you have a personality that makes them more likely.

Whatever the cause, you will want to take steps to avoid them happening and you will need to know how to deal with them if they do. Once you know how to deal with them, your sub-conscious will know that you know, and you will be less likely to suffer further attacks. Once having successfully dealt with a further attack if it should happen, also strengthens your confidence and makes further attacks less likely. In other words, once you begin to make progress it becomes progressively easier.

Take a look at your lifestyle and you may be able to make some changes that will help. If you can stop or at least cut back on drinks containing caffeine that is a good idea. So that means reduce your intake of tea, coffee and soft drinks. Try to reduce alcohol consumption and try to increase the amount of exercise you do in a week. If there is an underlying difficulty that you know is causing you stress, such as doing a job that you don’t like, it is worth thinking about changing for the sake of your health.

Eating regularly and getting plenty of sleep will also help to avoid predisposing you to panic attacks..

If you find your panic attacks fail to respond to self help then you should seek professional help. Get a referral to a suitable practitioner of cognitive behaviour therapy, since this has been proven to be extremely effective in many cases, and often only requires a few sessions of chatting to a qualified person who can help pinpoint simple ways to overcome the problem

As a last resort there is a possibility of medication to help to alleviate the situation but this is rarely necessary.

Tags

Beating Panic Attacks, Overcome Panic Attacks, Panic, Panic Attacks, Treating Panic Disorder

Meet the author

author avatar Rob Esmund
I am a retired UK health professional with interests in health, nutrition, and weight-loss

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Comments

author avatar Pinkchic18
10th Sep 2010 (#)

These are some great pointers. Some of the best advice is to exercise, get enough sleep every night, eating well (vitamins help), and even doing breathing exercises like yoga. Focusing on your breath helps take focus away from the panic.

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