How do you best manage a panic attack?
Panic attacks can be scary when they happen, but there are things you can do to manage them when they do occur.
Your heart is racing and you can’t control your breathing.
So what do you do?
WHAT DOES A PANIC ATTACK FEEL LIKE?
A panic attack is an intense wave of fear characterized by its unexpectedness and debilitating, immobilizing intensity.
Your heart pounds, you can’t breathe, and you may feel like you’re dying or going crazy.
Panic attacks often strike out of the blue, without any warning, and sometimes with no clear trigger.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A PANIC ATTACK?
Your body’s “fight or flight” response is behind these overwhelming physical symptoms.
Normally when you encounter a dangerous threat like avoiding being hit by a car, your nervous system springs into action making it difficult to manage a panic attack.
The hormone adrenaline floods into your bloodstream, putting your body on high alert. The heartbeat quickens, which sends more blood to your muscles. Breathing becomes fast and shallow, so you can take in more oxygen and blood sugar spikes. Your senses get sharper making it harder to manage a panic attack.
All of these changes happen instantly and give you the energy you need to confront a dangerous situation or get out of harm’s way quickly.
WHAT TO DO DURING A PANIC ATTACK
It is important that you are safe when trying to manage a panic attack.
Panic attacks can make you dizzy and extremely overwhelmed. If you do feel dizzy, sit down.
The best thing you can do to manage a panic attack is to focus on your breathing until it passes.
To help better manage a panic attack, breathe deeply and slowly count back from ten in your mind.
Keep breathing and counting over and over until the panic passes.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A PANIC ATTACK
As you come down from a panic attack, it is likely depression will set in.
I strongly encourage you to reach out to a friend or family member to tell them that you have had a panic attack.
Family and friends can not only help you manage your panic attack, but they can also provide additional friendly support.
Do not feel embarrassed about asking for help, panic attacks can be scary but they are manageable.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing distress you can reach out to Beyond Blue: Beyond Blue’s support line is available 24/7.
Lifeline: For crisis support, Lifeline provides a 24/7 line. They have a range of online resources as well.