How to deal with panic attacks

A panic attack is a sudden burst of fear and anxiety that often occurs without warning. At least one in 10 people suffer occasional panic attacks. While most panic attacks occur at random, some attacks occur after someone has been exposed to certain events that may trigger the attack. Understanding the symptoms of panic attacks can help you identify and deal with the problem properly.

Panic attack symptoms

Panic attack symptoms are mostly physical. They occur during an episode as a result of sudden overdrive of nervous impulses from the brain to the different parts of the body. The physical symptoms of panic attack do not mean there is anything wrong with the affected body organs, such as chest or heart problems. You should, therefore, not be overly worried there is a problem with your organs. In most cases, the body organs that show panic attack symptoms are functioning normally.

Common panic attacks symptoms include:

- Trembling and sweating

- Heart thumping and palpitations

- Chest pains

- Chills and hot flushes

- Fainting or dizzy feeling

- Pins and needles or numbness

- Short breath and sometimes choking feeling

- Feeling of detachment from oneself or unreality

Managing a panic attack

The cause of panic attacks is now known. Anyone can be affected, but young adults – two times more women than men – tend to experience panic attacks. If you have a panic attack, the easiest way to manage the attack and prevent the attack from getting worse is to control your breathing.

Concentrate on your breathing. Get a paper bag and breathe into it. Take deep, slow, deliberate breaths into the bag. This helps you re-breathe your own carbon dioxide, which rebalances your blood acid level that was upset during the panic attack. Incorrect blood acid level aggravates panic attack symptoms.

Bottom line

While panic attacks are frightening, they are fortunately physically harmless. There are also ways panic attacks can be avoided. If you have a panic attack, taking deep, slow breathes during episodes and accepting reassurance is usually all you need to overcome the problem. You often don’t require any additional treatment.

However, if you have recurring panic attacks, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Repeated panic attacks can be an indication of other forms of anxiety-based illness that need medical attention, such as depression and panic disorders.

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