A panic attack is a sudden onset of extreme anxiety and fear. They are terrifying and can happen without warning or reason. Symptoms can vary tremendously and may include; Feeling weak, faint, or dizzy, a pounding heart, tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers, sweating, breathing difficulties or chest pains, as well as a feeling of extreme fear and loss of control. These symptoms are powerful and dramatic and are caused by your body going into “fight or flight” mode, which is the instinctive physiological response to a threatening situation, which readies one either to resist forcibly(fight) or to run away(flight). If you were in actual danger, the fight or flight response would kick in to help. For example; if you were crossing the road and a huge lorry came racing towards you, your heartbeat would accelerate, you would breathe faster, and your body would become tense and ready to take action.
The same thing is happening when we experience a panic attack, the brain is sending the fight or flight response message out at the wrong time when we are not in actual danger and nothing bad is going to happen.
End a Panic Attack Quickly with these 4 Steps
- FOCUS: Feel your feet flat on the floor. Recognise and name three things you see around you.
- BREATH: Check that you are breathing through your nose, slowly in and out to the count of four.
- ACCEPT: You are doing fine, this is just a bunch of symptoms caused by adrenaline. The adrenaline will soon start to decrease.
- RELAX: Concentrate on dropping your shoulders as you breathe out.
Tips on Preventing a Panic Attack
When you feel the initial fear rising:
- Drop your shoulders down a notch or two and relax as much as you can. Do the breathing technique (breathing through the Diaphragm)
- Don’t fight the feelings, wait, give them time to pass, don’t run away. The quicker you accept that what you are experiencing is just a bunch of symptoms, the quicker they will reduce.
- Try and accept that your mind is playing tricks on you. No harm is going to come to you.
- Remember the feelings and symptoms are normal reactions to stress and anxiety.
- Don’t add on frightening thoughts like ‘What if………..’ or thinking the worst will happen.
- Remember that Panic attacks can be reduced and even overcome if we deal with them properly.
- Remember that you will NOT faint, collapse, have a heart attack or die from a panic attack.
- Watch the No Panic correct breathing animation: https://nopanic.org.uk/correct-breathing/
- Understand that you are not in actual danger, you have just misinterpreted the situation
- Tell yourself how well you are doing. It is a great achievement
You might like to take a look at the No Panic YouTube channel where we have different videos on Panic and panic attacks: No Panic’s YouTube Channel
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Providing people with the skills they need to manage their condition and work towards recovery.
Our aim is to give you all of the necessary advice, tools and support that you will need to recover and carry out this journey. No Panic Recovery Programs