Even though it’s not a good idea to give yourself a self-diagnosis of panic attacks, it’s also not a good idea to wait until your “attack” is over to do something about it. Here are the things you must know so that when you feel that you are having an attack, you know what to do:
Understand what a panic attack is all about. Awareness is the most important weapon to combat panic attacks because when you feel or know that you are under attack, it is much easier for you to counter the effects of the symptoms that go along with it. Remember this: panic attacks can happen to anyone. It can happen to stressed and depressed people as well as happy and healthy ones. It can happen without warning or apparent reason.
Triggers can also cause irrational and exaggerated fear and anxiety. A chemical imbalance in the body (low serotonin and low progesterone levels) can trigger an attack. And while there are so many studies that suggest some causes of panic attacks, the condition is still not fully understood.
Learn the signs. Most people can’t tell whether they’re having a panic attack because they can’t justify or differentiate between what’s real and what’s not. True, but there is no justification. heartbeat, chest pain, hyperventilation or shortness of breath, stomach-churning, upset stomach, trembling and shaking, muscle tension, perspiration, dizziness and lightheadedness, hot or cold flashes, tingling sensation or numbness, and dread of dying, going insane, or losing control. Symptoms vary because people react differently to stimuli.
Practice deep breathing. During an attack, deep breathing is the best way to ease symptoms and keep your mind from going to scary places. Hold your breath for 3 slow counts, then breathe in for 3 slow counts. Continue till you’re calm. Inhale into a paper bag. Re-breathing carbon dioxide helps restore the blood acid level that excessive breathing altered.
Stay positive. While it is easier said than done, staying positive during an attack will speed up your recovery. Let the situation flow while keeping in mind that it will pass. An attack peaks for 5 to 10 minutes and rarely extends for more than half an hour, so do not think that you are going crazy (or going to die), even if it feels like you are going crazy (or going to die).
Avoid unnecessary stress. While you cannot avoid every stressful situation, and it is also unhealthy to turn your back on situations that need to be addressed, avoiding unnecessary stress can help reduce the chances of you experiencing an attack. Stay away from people who stress you out, from relationships that cause stress, and from situations that get you tense.
Learn to say “no” when you have other, far more essential things to do. Avoid working long hours. Don’t take on more work if you know you can’t finish it.