Although a panic attack can be a very unpleasant experience, it is not actually dangerous or harmful.
Common symptoms of a panic attack can include:
o Heart palpitations/pounding or rapid heartbeat
o Uncontrollable shaking
o A choking sensation
o Shortness of breath or a feeling of being smothered
o Feeling light headed
o Muscular pain, mostly felt in the neck or shoulders
o A strong feeling that you are going insane or about to lose control
o Hot flushes or chills
o Indigestion and feeling sick
o Tingling sensations in the face and body
o An urgent need to go to the toilet
o Disturbing thoughts
o A feeling of unreality as if you’re in a dream
o Depersonalization – feeling as if you don’t exist
o An overwhelming feeling of impending doom
This is by no means an exhaustive list.
A panic attack can last for any length of time from less than a minute to up to an hour.
So what can you do to help yourself?
Here are 5 tips to help you to control panic attacks
1. Control your breathing by performing a simple breathing exercise. Sit or lie down on the floor. Relax and make your body go as floppy as you can. Slowly breathe in and then breathe out whilst saying to yourself “I am calm”. Repeat this 10 to 20 times.
2. It is important not to fight your feelings, as this will only make things worse – it is better to allow them to happen naturally. Concentrating on something else can help. Think of anything that you find relaxing and comforting – imagine you are somewhere quiet, warm and sunny, for example. Some sufferers find that slowly counting back from 100 is a good way to bring things under control.
3. To help yourself to cope with anxiety that can lead to a sudden panic attack don’t bottle things up – talk to someone.
4. Avoid unnecessary stressful situations – reducing the amount of stress in your life is always a good plan.
5. Try a cognitive behavioural therapy – these can be a very effective treatment without recourse to drugs.
Don’t let panic attacks control your life – take the first steps towards being anxiety-free right now!