Dealing with Panic Attacks? – Here’s How to Tell and What Will Help

Despite panic attacks being the blunt of cartoons and TV sitcoms, these episodes are no laughing matter.

In fact, people have reported feeling like they were dying while in the throes of a panic attack.

Your outlook may not always be this bleak as these episodes can produce many different symptoms, but you may have still experienced a panic attack.

To help safeguard your overall wellbeing, it’s important to understand panic attacks as well as what to do should you experience one.

Understand Panic Attacks

A common misperception is that dealing with panic attacks is reserved for anxious people. However, regardless of any mental health diagnosis, anyone can experience a panic attack.

Additionally, panic attacks have many faces, displaying unique symptoms for every person. And, they can occur without warning.

A panic attack is a very personal experience, inducing intense levels of fear and distress. Some believe that a panic attack is simply an over-dramatization or attention-seeking ploy.

Rather, those dealing with panic attacks often try to hide away to avoid attracting attention.

How to Tell It’s a Panic Attack

Dealing with panic attacks can be incredibly scary the first few experiences. Really, the rush of fear doesn’t fade altogether—even after several attacks.

Although each person may have their own unique signs of a panic attack, some common symptoms include:

• Dizziness

• Shortness of breath

• Rapid heart rate

• Chest pain; heaviness

• Shaking or trembling

• Flushed skin

• Nausea or upset stomach

• A rush of fear; fear of death

• Loss of control; unsafe feeling

For some, the stigma of panic attacks may prevent them from “naming” the actual experience. Yet, knowing you’re dealing with panic attacks does help to manage each attack with a bit more confidence.

How to Help Yourself During an Attack

As mentioned, experiencing a panic attack can be scary for you and those around you. Yet, there are ways to help yourself, even when you feel a severe loss of control.

Surround Yourself with Support

When you’ve identified panic attacks at work in your life, be sure to educate those closest to you—your support circle.

In the midst of a panic attack, trustworthy friends and family can provide invaluable support to you.

Practice Acceptance

Also, acknowledge and accept that what you’re experiencing is indeed a panic attack. Remember, self-judgment or denial only delays recovery.

Many people opt to verbally acknowledge their feelings by speaking aloud, “My feelings and sensations are very uncomfortable, but they won’t kill me.”

Be Still and Observe

Panic often promotes a desire to flee or escape. Though a better option to overcoming a panic attack is to wait.

Watch what symptoms arise, and how you respond to those symptoms.

It’s helpful to write your sensations down in a panic diary. This tends to put you in the place of observer rather than a victim.

Work with Your Body

Tension and a “frozen” feeling are not uncommon when dealing with panic attacks.  Some people have felt as if they couldn’t move a muscle.

It’s important to harness the power of your own body in this situation.

For example, practice belly breathing. This will communicate calmness to your autonomic nervous system as well as make you feel more comfortable.

Furthermore, try to tense and relax the muscles in your body one by one. A deeper sense of self-awareness will follow, encouraging a more present state of mind.

When to Seek Professional Help

Unsurprisingly, many people who experience panic attacks struggle on their own for far too long.

Therapy can empower you with coping skills, helping you to overcome the debilitating fear accompanying panic attacks.

When panic attacks consistently interrupt your life, leaving you with horrible memories of the episode, it’s time to seek professional help.

Please, reach out today to learn more about panic disorder, and how we can support you in dealing with panic attacks.