May 9, 2023
According to Bupa Health, 1 in 3 people in the UK experience panic attacks. Panic attacks are a common symptom associated with other mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety in particular. However, according to the NHS, if you’re experiencing regular panic attacks without reason, as well as stress and anxiety, you may have a panic disorder. You might be wondering, how do you know if you are having a panic attack and what do you do?
This help guide will go through everything you need to know about panic attacks and how to deal with them in the present and the future.
A panic attack is often associated with intense anxiety and manifests as an episode of severe fear.
It can feel like a sudden rush of rapid thoughts as well as physical symptoms. These physical symptoms stem from your body going through the ‘fight or flight’ response mode.
During the primitive times, humans had life threatening experiences where our bodies would adapt to fight any dangers e.g., a lion charging at you. Our bodies would react physically e.g., releasing adrenaline which would increase our heart rate to enable us to fight the dangers.
Through time, this has changed and the dangers we feel may not be as life threatening as being chased as food, however we are still sensitive to situations we deem as dangerous where we can feel frightened. As a result, our bodies still react in the same way.
Panic attacks and anxiety attacks can share some similarities. They both result in both emotional and physical symptoms.
However, the difference is through the cause of the attacks:
Some of the physical symptoms include:
However, everyone can experience a mix of symptoms with panic attacks usually lasting from around 5-20 minutes.
In the moment dealing with a panic attack can be confusing, frightening and you just want the feelings to stop. However, it is important you work through the panic attack and face it head on. You will feel the majority of the benefit after facing it.
If you’re in the midst of a panic attack, there are methods you can take to help work through it.
It is important to know panic attacks are not dangerous but can feel as though they are. However, it will pass, and the panic will end.
Recalling positive affirmations can ground yourself and ensure you make yourself aware you are having a panic attack. You could tell yourself:
Slow breathing can help ease some of the physical symptoms you experience. Let’s go through it:
Step 1: Relax your shoulders and arms.
Step 2: Take a deep breath in through your nose, counting to 5.
Step 3: Slowly breathe back out for 5 seconds through your mouth.
Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you feel a lot calmer. Put your focus on the way your heart beats, the sensations you feel through your body as you breathe. Clear your mind of any thoughts other than the sensations your feel from this exercise.
After you have a panic attack it is important you relax. Ways of doing this could include:
You should also ensure you let your loved ones aware of this episode as if you experience another panic attack, they’ll be aware of what is happening and can provide extra support.
Since panic attacks are associated with anxiety, it is essential to work towards finding ways to cope with anxiety itself. Below are a few methods to help prevent future panic attacks through helping to manage and cope with anxiety as well as panic disorder:
Exercising releases endorphins which are ‘feel-good’ hormones which reduce stress. In essence, they lift your mood and reduce anxiety. Reducing anxiety, therefore preventing potential panic attacks in the future.
An additional benefit of exercising is that it acts as a distracting mechanism. When you exercise, your attention moves from your racing thoughts to the motion and physical impact your body is going through.
Your diet can have an impact on your anxiety and depression. Certain foods, drinks and eating habits may be worth considering.
According to the NHS, talking therapies are one of the main treatments for panic disorder.
CBT is a recommended treatment and one of the services we offer here at Head Agenda. With CBT, it aims to reduce the number of panic attacks you experience.
We can help you tackle panic attacks head on and provide you with the support and techniques you need to prevent them from happening in the future.
We also provide a range of other support options.
For more information, please see our anxiety page and depression page as well as our anxiety help guide and depression help guide.
Alternatively, if you wish to get support through CBT for panic disorders, anxiety, and depression, please contact us via:
Or fill in our enquiry form and book and appointment today:
Disclaimer: This article has been designed for entertainment and informational purposes; it is not personalised medical advice. This guide may be a useful read to generate some ideas, however, please take advice from a medical professional.
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