Have you heard of a panic attack? Have you ever experienced it? If you have, how did you stop it? Well, if you have no idea then this article is for you. Today, we shall take a look into a panic attack and how to stop it.
First off, a panic attack is a Sudden episode of intense fear or anxiety and physical symptoms, based on a perceived threat rather than imminent danger. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.
Many people have just one or two panic attacks in their lifetimes, and the problem goes away. Sometimes it occurs due to a stressful situation and perhaps when this stressful situation ends, they never get a panic attack ever again.
Take note however that if you have recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and spend long periods in constant fear of another attack, you may have a condition called panic disorder.
Although panic attacks themselves aren’t life-threatening, they can be frightening and significantly affect your quality of life. The good news however is that their treatment can be very effective, which is why we are looking into a panic attack and how to stop it.
Panic attacks, just like any other complication have signs and symptoms and they typically include the following:
- Sense of impending doom or danger
- Fear of loss of control or death
- Rapid, pounding heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
- Hot flashes
- Abdominal cramping
- Chest pain
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Feeling of unreality or detachment
If you are to decipher a panic attack and how to stop it, you also need to keep in mind that however much the exact causes of a panic attack are not well known, there are also factors that play a role in causing a panic attack and these factors include the following:
The exact causes of panic disorder are not known, but like many other anxiety disorders, panic disorder runs in families, meaning that inheritance may play a strong role in determining who becomes affected by it.
The present understanding suggests that panic disorder is a multifactorial condition, with multiple genes creating susceptibility to the condition coupled with influences from the environment.
When you’re feeling anxious or scared, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. This can be helpful in some situations, but it might also cause physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate and increased sweating. In some people, this might cause a panic attack.
Certain changes in the way parts of your brain function.
The brain produces a chemical known as Epinephrine. However, epinephrine is the primary chemical because it is directly involved in your anxiety symptoms. When you experience an anxious moment, the amount of epinephrine circulating in your body will instantly increase in response to whatever has triggered your anxiety.
When you are taking a look at a panic attack and how to stop it, you should keep in mind that there are factors that may increase the risk of developing panic attacks or even panic disorder and they include the following:
Family history of panic attacks or panic disorder
Like I explained earlier, The exact causes of panic disorder are not known, but like many other anxiety disorders, panic disorder runs in families, meaning that inheritance may play a strong role in determining who becomes affected by it.
Major life stress.
There are instances such as the death or serious illness of a loved one which cause huge amounts of stress. Remember that When you’re feeling anxious or scared, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. This can be helpful in some situations, but it might also cause physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate and increased sweating. In some people, this might cause a panic attack.
A traumatic event.
Traumatic events such as sexual assault or maybe a serious accident could leave the brain tortured and this can cause a panic attack from time to time. Remember that the brain plays a huge role in panic attacks as explained earlier.
Major changes in your life.
There are changes that occur and they seem heavy for a person. Such changes could include a divorce or the addition of a baby. This could lead to stress which in turn increases the risk of a panic attack.
When looking at a panic attack and how to stop it, keep in mind that before you seek treatment, you could take a few counter measures to stop a panic attack yourself;
Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and recreational drugs.
This could be very effective as it may help to relieve fear and anxiety. Once you are able to cut off stress and anxiety, you are already reducing the risk of getting a panic attack and this could help to stop it altogether.
Try deep breathing exercises.
Whereas hyperventilating is a symptom of panic attacks that can increase fear, deep breathing can reduce symptoms of panic during an attack. A group of scientists found that slow breathing could have relaxation and calming effects. They suggested it could also improve feelings of relaxation, comfort, and alertness and reduce symptoms of arousal anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion.
If you’re able to control your breathing, you’re less likely to experience the hyperventilating that can make other symptoms or even the panic attack itself worse. Focus on taking a deep breath in through your nose, feeling the air slowly fill your chest and belly. Then slowly exhale through your mouth and feel the air leave your body.
Close your eyes
Some panic attacks come from triggers that overwhelm you and these triggers could be right around you.. If you’re in a fast-paced environment with a lot of stimuli, this can feed your panic attack. To reduce the stimuli, close your eyes during your panic attack. This can block out any extra stimuli and make it easier to focus on your breathing.
Think of your happy place
Guided imagery techniques can help reduce stress and anxiety. Research suggests that both spending time in nature and visualizing nature can help treat and manage anxiety levels. Think of the most relaxing place you have been to and this way you can stop a panic attack.
Picture yourself in your happy place and try to focus on the details as much as possible. This place should be quiet, calm, and relaxing.
Find a focus object
Some people find it helpful to find something to focus all their attention on during a panic attack. Pick one object in clear sight and consciously note everything about it possible. Describe the patterns, color, shapes, and size of the object to yourself. Focus all your energy on this object, and your panic symptoms may reduce.
If none of these solutions work for you however, you may need to seek medical help from experts in order to stop a panic attack.
Seeking Medical Care
See a doctor immediately if you
If at all you are experiencing symptoms for the first time, you have suicidal thoughts, if you have symptoms that are becoming worse or more frequent or maybe you are struggling to work, maintain relationships or complete daily tasks, Make an appointment to see a doctor immediately to receive help before the issue turns serious.
Medications can help reduce symptoms associated with panic attacks as well as depression if that’s an issue for you. Several types of medication have been shown to be effective in managing symptoms of panic attacks but remember not to self medicate. See an expert and get a prescription from them.
Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is considered an effective first choice treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder. Psychotherapy can help you understand a panic attacks and how to stop it.
A form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy can help you learn, through your own experience, that panic symptoms are not dangerous. Your therapist will help you gradually re-create the symptoms of a panic attack in a safe, repetitive manner. Once the physical sensations of panic no longer feel threatening, the attacks begin to resolve. Successful treatment can also help you overcome fears of situations that you’ve avoided because of panic attacks.
Seeing results from treatment can take time and effort. You may start to see panic attack symptoms reduce within several weeks, and often symptoms decrease significantly or go away within several months. You may schedule occasional maintenance visits to help ensure that your panic attacks remain under control or to treat recurrences.
When you look at a panic attack and how to stop it, you will realize that even when it is scary and overwhelming, it is controllable and you can overcome it.
“Although panic attacks can be scary and overwhelming, they can also be a powerful teacher, showing us the depths of our inner strength and resilience. We may develop more self-awareness, self-compassion, and a stronger feeling of connection with others by addressing our anxieties and finding ways to control our anxiety.“Dr. Rameez Shaikh
Frequently Asked Questions.
What do panic attacks feel like?
A panic attack feels like a sudden shock wave. It is a feeling of sudden and intense anxiety. Panic attacks can also have physical symptoms, including: shaking. feeling disorientated
How do I know if I’m having a panic?
If you’re having a panic attack, you may experience what feels like an irregular or racing heartbeat (palpitations) irregular or racing heartbeat (palpitations) sweating.
How long do panic attacks last?
Most panic attacks last between 5 and 20 minutes. Some have been reported to last up to an hour. The number of attacks you have will depend on how severe your condition is. Some people have attacks once or twice a month, while others have them several times a week.
How do you stop panic attacks fast?
The key to stopping or minimizing any panic attack is to focus on your external world (sights, sounds, sensations) rather than the internal signs (heart racing, scary thoughts or rapid breathing). To stop a panic attack, focus on your five senses.
Do you cry after experiencing a panic attack?
Yes, it is natural to cry after experiencing a panic attack. Panic attacks are so intense that, when they’re over, the need to cry is natural and expected. Not everyone cries after anxiety attacks, but the intensity makes it natural to feel like crying.