What Are Panic Attacks & How Can You Stay Calm When They Happen?

Panic attacks are a dreadful experience that can appear out of nowhere, and although you can’t control if and when you get one, there are ways that you can reduce their impact and possibly make them less likely to happen. This article will discuss what panic attacks are so that you can learn how to recognize them when they occur and manage the symptoms.

What Is A Panic Attack?

Have you ever had a sudden but brief moment where you had intense and uncontrollable anxiety? You might have experienced a panic attack, and there are ways to help minimize their effects if you have a strategy beforehand, especially if you have a history of panic attacks.

Symptoms of panic attacks that can come from an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety can include:

  • Rapid breathing & heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Numbness in extremities

Those who have these symptoms can also feel like there is an impending sense of doom or that they will die soon, and understandably so – panic attacks can make individuals feel like they are having a heart attack or that they’re losing complete control over their bodies.

However, one key feature to understand is that while they are terrifying and extremely uncomfortable, panic attacks are not inherently life-threatening, and knowing this can help ease your mind and body somewhat, in addition to the tips you’ll read about next.

Learn Relaxation Techniques

One of the most effective ways to combat panic attacks as they’re happening is to counter the symptoms by practicing deep breathing and mindfulness directly.

Learning how to control your breathing will help elicit the relaxation response in your body, and you’ll notice that you will quickly de-stress. Not only will your breathing go back to a normal rate, but so will your heart rate and blood pressure.

These are all features that are affected during the fight-or-flight response when you’re feeling anxious, and by recognizing that you currently have a panic attack and that you’re probably not in immediate danger, you’ll eventually calm down.

Lifestyle Changes

While learning how to relax when facing a panic attack is essential, you can also take preventative measures and potentially decrease the chance of them appearing. Some people rarely have panic attacks, whereas others can have panic disorder and deal with them regularly, but any advantage can prove to be beneficial.

Some strategies you can incorporate include exercise, reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption, as well as stopping smoking or ingesting other nicotine sources, as these can make symptoms of anxiety worse.

Getting enough sleep can also help reduce anxiety in your daily life, in addition to simply improving your overall mental health. The previous tips can also help improve your sleep quality as well.

Professional Assistance

Although there is only so much you can do on your own to find relief for panic attacks, you can also consider talking to a professional if panic attacks have been causing you frequent distress – even a single event can make people fearful of the next panic attack.

Some medications, like antianxiety and antidepressant drugs, can help manage symptoms in both the short and long term. Other medications like beta-blockers can help your body deal with the physical symptoms of the fight-or-flight response by reducing adrenaline.

Therapy can also be a long-term solution because it can teach you how to cope and behave if you have a panic attack. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, in general, can be extremely effective in treating anxiety-related issues, including the fear of having a panic attack in the future.

Additional Resources For Panic Attacks

Aside from the tips provided to you here, it also helps to educate yourself on all that you can about panic attacks, such as what possible triggers are, how long they last, and of course, other effective strategies to help manage the symptoms.

To find more information, BetterHelp has free resources that can help you learn more about panic attacks as well as how you can deal with stress and anxiety in general.

You’ll also be able to find out how you can speak to someone directly who understands what you’re going through; counseling and therapy can give you an opportunity to voice your concerns and find out how you can overcome the fear of panic attacks.

Conclusion

Regardless if you have them rarely or they’re a regular occurrence, panic attacks are always distressing, but hopefully, by learning about them and finding ways to relieve symptoms, you’ll be able to manage them whenever they appear. You’ll never know if or when they’ll happen again, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared just in case they do appear when you least expect them.