You may suddenly feel intensely frightened, followed by a huge wave of fear and anxiety. The feeling is debilitating, and more so because it is unexpected. A panic attack comes unexpectedly, and gives no warning. There need not be a reason for any such attack, or it could be due to a specific situation like crossing a bridge or facing an interview. It may happen just once to you, or several times–even while you sleep or relax and it is all about feeling trapped in a particular situation.
A panic attack could be part of a larger problem, such as social phobia, panic disorder and depression. However, the good news is that this condition is highly treatable. In fact, psychotherapy, antidepressants and other medications are known to cure the problem.
You know you are going through a panic attack when you experience shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and chest pain, just as in a heart attack.
Here are some tried and tested methods of overcoming the problem called panic attacks:
If you find a panic attack coming on, immediately concentrate on your breathing. Begin to breathe slowly, deeply and relax. This will lessen the stress you feel. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Keep your eyes closed and count to five on each movement.
Find a private space:
You do not want to be the cynosure of all eyes when you have a panic attack. So, whenever it happens, retreat to a quiet space where you can deal with it using the relaxation techniques you know.
Organize your thoughts:
Were your thoughts getting out of control at the beginning of the attack? If yes, stop for a moment and get a hold of yourself. Organize your thoughts and plan your next move until you are completely calm.
Think of something peaceful:
Perhaps, some peaceful landscape that you have visited and has stayed with you ever since would be ideal to think of now. Once you imagine yourself there, you get your parasympathetic nervous system to keep your body calm instead of the restless condition that brought on your panic attack. This will help you gain control over your feelings and return to normal soon.
Rest, exercise and de-stress:
Certain lifestyle habits like resting, exercising and de-stressing adequately can help to lower the frequency and levels of your panic attacks. It would help if you took up some aerobic exercise like swimming, biking or running; and quit caffeine, alcohol and cigarette smoking.
Try progressive muscle relaxation:
This technique involves tensing your muscles and alternating it with releasing them. You should do this for each muscle group, one at a time. This will help you focus on the various muscle groups and you can see the difference between your tensed and your relaxed muscles. From this, you can also learn how your body feels in the present moment.
One of the best ways of handling a panic attack is to develop a positive attitude. Convince yourself that this is temporary and that you know how to control it. With this belief, you will not feel the anxiety and panic you’re familiar with and will be in control of the situation.