Panic attacks are intense surges of fear, panic, or anxiety.
Panic attacks can be terrifying, they can come on very suddenly at any time and in any place.
Panic attacks are intense surges of fear, panic
, or anxiety
. They are overwhelming, and they come with physical as well as emotional
Many people with panic attacks may have difficulty breathing, sweat profusely, tremble, and feel their heart pounding.
Some people will also experience chest pain and a feeling of detachment from reality or themselves so they might think they’re having a heart attack. Others have reported feeling like they are having a stroke.
It's estimated that almost 1 to 2 percent of the general population will suffer from a panic attack in any given year, and approximately 5 percent of the population will experience panic disorder at some point in their lives.
There are techniques you can use to try to stop a panic attack before it begins or even just try to cope during a panic attack to make it even just a little easier to deal with.
Use deep breathing
While hyperventilating is a symptom of panic attacks that can increase fear, deep breathing can reduce symptoms of panic during an attack.
If you’re able to control your breathing, you’re less likely to experience the hyperventilating that can make other symptoms and the panic attack itself much worse.
Focus on taking deep breaths in and out through your mouth, feeling the air slowly fill your chest and belly and then slowly leave them again. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a second, and then breathe out for a count of four.
Acknowledge that you’re having a panic attack
By acknowledging that you’re having a panic attack and not a heart attack, you can remind yourself that this is temporary, it will pass, and that you’re okay.
It will help to take away the fear that you may be dying or that impending doom is looming, both symptoms of panic attacks. Try to repeat “this too shall pass”. And it will.
Close your eyes
Some panic attacks come from triggers that overwhelm you. If you’re in a fast-paced environment with a lot of stimuli, this can feed your panic attack.
To reduce the stimuli, close your eyes during your panic attack. This can block out any extra stimuli and make it easier to focus back on your breathing.
Mindfulness can help ground you in the reality of what’s around you. Since panic attacks can cause a feeling of detachment from reality, this can combat your panic attack as it’s approaching or actually happening.
Focus on the physical sensations you are familiar with, like pressing your feet into the ground, or feeling the texture of your clothes on your fingertips. These specific sensations ground you firmly in reality and give you something objective to focus on.
Picture your happy place
What’s the most relaxing place in the world that you can think of? A sunny beach with gently rolling waves? It could also be a place where you feel safest. In bed with your partner.
Picture yourself there, and try to focus on the details as much as possible. Imagine digging your toes into the warm sand, or hugging your partner. That feeling of safety and calm. This place should be quiet, calm, and relaxing.
Keep lavender on hand
Lavender is known for being soothing and stress-relieving. It can help your body relax. If you know you’re prone to panic attacks, keep some lavender essential oil with you either in your bag or drops on a tissue. You could also put some on your forearms when you experience a panic attack. Breathe in the scent.
Laura Doyle, Mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Follow her on Instagram.