MARCH 13, 2023

How to overcome panic attacks

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  • What is a panic attack?
  • How do I recognize a panic attack?
  • Effective methods of overcoming panic attacks
  • What should one do after a panic attack is over?
  • How should the witnesses of a panic attack act?
Constant stress, dramatic news coming from the media, frequent excessive tiredness, depressive states, the loss of close people etc. can cause anxiety and sometimes result in the loss of control over oneself. It can happen with almost anyone. These are the signs of an emotional condition qualified as a panic attack. Women are more prone to such uncontrollable fits of fear, but these fits don’t last long and disappear without trace over time. It could seem at first sight that there are no reasons to worry. But still, this problem influences the emotional condition of a person strongly and can be caused by a number of pathological factors.

How to overcome a panic attack? In order to do this one should learn several simple exercises in order to be able to help yourself or the people near you.

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is a sudden appearance of a strong feeling of fear and anxiety. A person feels anxious but cannot explain the reasons clearly. Dangerous physiological manifestations can appear, i.e. increased heart rate, intense sweating, difficulties with breathing, dizziness, etc.

A panic attack can develop quite intensively and its characteristics are obvious in the behaviour of a person and in their appearance. The person looks worried, distracted, they can lack air or become breathless. During a strong attack a full loss of self-control can take place. The worst scenario is a heart attack which one should be ready for knowing how to help a person who’s had it.

The general feeling is unpleasant, it unbalances a person though at its initial stages it doesn’t put one’s life in danger. The external manifestations frequently frighten the person herself and those surrounding her; that is why it is necessary to perform actions which will help overcome panic attacks, the reasons of which can vary. The most wide-spread reasons the psychologists mention are:
  • Strong stress;
  • Psychic disorders;
  • Emotional overload;
  • Posttraumatic syndrome.

The specialists highlight that the panic disorders is dangerous that is why it is necessary to treat it. Special practices and methods have been developed to this effect.

How do I recognize a panic attack?

Almost every person has experienced panic under the influence of strong stress in their life. Usually it is soon over, as soon as the source of the excitement wanes. This condition needs correct treatment. In case it is not given serious attention the intensity of panic attacks can increase over time. In this case the situation develops into a full-scale panic disorder which can be coped with only with the help of a professional and qualified medical doctor.

The provoking factor is usually a certain phobia. Old-time fears that a person is likely to forget can «wake up» at any moment. As the result come the aggravated condition and the possibility of an attack. The more frequently such situations appear the more a person tends to fear them. Problems with daily routines can pop up, the patient can considerably alter the style and character of their life in order to avoid fear and its causes.

Panic attacks have various causes which differ depending upon the individual condition. Mostly they have the following manifestations:
  • The feeling of anxiety;
  • The feeling of terror;
  • Dissociation from reality;
  • Strong sweating;
  • Headache and dizziness;
  • Tremor;
  • Chest pain;
  • Digestion system disorders;
  • Problems with coordination;
  • Frequent urges to urinate.

The symptoms manifest suddenly and acutely, no matter the conditions of the environment. The duration can vary, in average it is 7 to 10 minutes. If the active phase has already started, it is impossible to stop it. It will cease by itself overtime, leaving the unpleasant sensations.
Many people are curious if the panic attacks can be cured and how to get rid of them forever. The psychologists are sure that the right treatment will help with the solution.

Effective methods of overcoming panic attacks

The first rule of overcoming the symptoms of the attack is – the correct breathing. It is necessary to fill the lungs with the air slowly, counting to five, and then let it out with the same speed. The oxygen, when it gets into the body in necessary quantity, satiates the brain, stabilizes the work of the cardiovascular system. In order to improve your condition you can rub your extremities and ears or simply give yourself a hug. It will help with the dissociation symptoms when it is hard for the person to feel one’s own body.

It is necessary to understand that it is impossible to overcome the panic, it will cease gradually in several minutes. It is necessary to wait and calm down as much as possible. It is desirable to switch one’s attention to something that brings pleasure, for example tasty food, books, warmth, etc. In case when nothing helps it is better to walk in circles avoiding the contact with heavy dangerous objects. It is important to think about something pleasant at this time.

There are several sure ways to overcome panic attacks. Their influence and action are always individual, so everyone can choose the most effective ones for oneself.
  1. Use audio applications. You can record calming words or assertions, add pleasant sounds and turn it on as soon as the attack reminds of itself.
  2. Write down your fears at the moment of the attack. On the one hand it will give you a chance to distract your attention and concentrate on the task, and on the other – it will help you pin down your emotional experience at an acute moment. You can show these notes to your doctor later.
  3. Say no to coffee and other stimulators. They tease the receptors and make a person more irritable. It is better to drink clear cool water slowly in small gulps.
  4. Blow up an «air balloon». In this case the air balloon is your own tummy. You have to lie down at your back and calmly breathe in through your nose till your tummy is filled. Then slowly let the air out.
  5. «The butterfly hug». This technique allows you to increase the sense of safety. You need to cross your arms so that your hands reach your shoulders. Slowly move your elbows. Repeat it 8 times and put your hands down after that. You should perform at least 3 to 5 takes of the exercise.

And although a panic attack lasts only several minutes, it seems to a person that it is taking much longer. Simple exercises will help overcome its acute manifestations.

What should one do after a panic attack is over?

The body gets exhausted after several minutes of such anxiety, so after it is over it is desirable to restore one’s strength as much as possible. If you feel sleepy it is worth while lying down to rest. You can feel hungry or thirsty. By no means should you drink alcohol as it can cause additional stress. It is also not recommended to «eat down» the panic attack by sweet foods as they significantly strain the body.

It is desirable that a person should be near somebody who can help during the panic attack. Try to find such a companion who will not be frightened and will act according to the plan. If it is impossible to calm down using standard methods it is desirable to see a psychotherapist. A specialist will help not only to overcome this condition but also to prevent it.
Relaxing practices help to recover, for example massage or aromatherapy. Many people feel better after sports exercises, walking in the fresh air, communication with people and playing with pets. Active way of life makes the body stress-resistant so that the panic happens much more rarely.

In the period between the attacks one should learn to breathe correctly. These skills are also useful while performing physical exercises.

It is important to recognize the attack precisely without mistaking it for other serious conditions such as for example a heart attack. Its symptoms are more intense and they do not disappear during several minutes. Sharp chest pain, fainting, breathing difficulties are the signs of a heart attack that are very dangerous to ignore, calming yourself down that «it will pass by itself». In cases of such aggravation it is necessary to call for medical help immediately.

How should the witnesses of a panic attack act?

There are effective methods that will help overcome the sudden manifestations of anxiety. But what should we do if we witness a panic attack? It should be understood that it is impossible to stop this condition. It will last for several minutes after which time it will gradually cease. The task of a person who is near the patient at this moment is following:
  • Calm down the person who is currently in the condition of a panic attack; tell them that everything will be alright and the attack will be over soon;
  • Hug the person who is currently in the condition of a panic attack strongly holding them in this position for several minutes until they are able to relax;
  • Control the breath of the person in panic;
  • Find a comfortable and safe place for a person to sit down;
  • Massage their extremities, neck and ears;
  • Talk to them all the time, recalling the moments pleasant for this person;
  • Provide the access of the fresh air.
In no case should the person in the condition of a panic attack be left alone. Good quality communication is very important for them at this time. The witness will help to switch the attention faster, to focus it on something pleasant. After the attack is over it is necessary to make sure that the condition is normal.

When it is time to see a doctor

A single manifestation of a panic attack is still not a reason for systematic medical treatment. But still if its intensity begins to increase one should necessarily see a doctor. Psychological causes of this phenomenon are treated by a psychotherapist, who can determine the cause and choose the treatment methods depending on the condition of a patient. There are two effective methods which are mostly used simultaneously:

       Active psychotherapy – sessions with a specialist for the emotional solution of the matter;

       Pharmaceutical therapy – taking antidepressants and medications from anxiety.

It is dangerous to treat oneself with pharmaceutical means, it is better to take care of prevention. In order for panic attacks not to take place frequently it is recommended to practice sports, abandon bad habits, spend more time in the fresh air and avoid stressful situations.

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