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How to stop a panic attack


Panic attacks are tricky medical conditions to navigate around. You don’t need some form of anxiety disorder or illness to suffer them, in fact you may only suffer one once in your life. They can happen to anyone and it’s important you know how to handle them, potentially for your own or someone else’s benefit.

What is a panic attack

Panic attacks are triggered by an exaggerated and overwhelming anxiety in reaction to a given stimulus which causes loss of control of the body. [5 triggers of anxiety] They are based on the human’s ‘fight or flight system’, which is activated when we perceive threats. It’s our way of physically preparing for escaping danger. Unfortunately, in the modern world, most of these threats are not actually life threatening but the brain reacts to them as such due to past experiences and traumas or personality types. There’s no need for an accelerated heartbeat, excessive sweating or feeling faint because of an exam or getting up on stage. It’s all in the mind.

What causes or encourages panic attacks?

Panic attacks are triggered by something which causes particular anxiety for the sufferer. A trick of the mind causes them to lose control of themselves. Panic attacks are encouraged by lifestyle choices, such as too much caffeine and sugar, not exercising enough and not sleeping enough. In fact, doctors often recommend focussing on a physically stimulating task or having a glass of water when having a panic attack, because such lifestyle choices are known to prevent them.

What stops an onset panic attack and why?

Because panic attacks are caused by irrational thought processes, it’s best to try and work through them to help a sufferer relax quicker. The paper bag method will regulate their breathing, but it’s the increasing anxiety in their mind which is causing it in the first place. Sufferers should say positive statements out loud and write down all negative thoughts that run through their mind to regain control. It focusses perspective, causing the sufferer to become an observer of bad thoughts instead of a victim.

A good physical technique is to ground yourself with repetitive movements. Sufferers should hold on to any nearby surface immediately and sit themselves down. Holding any objects close to hand and running your hands over them can help you ground yourself and stay aware of your surroundings. This will stop the dizzy, floating feelings of a panic attack.

Distracting yourself with discomfort is also good, because it focusses your body on alleviating it, instead of shutting itself down. Commonly, sufferers will tightly hold an ice cube in between both hands, and the slight pain will stop them thinking the negative thoughts which started the panic attack.

It isn’t an overreaction to seek medical help. You can only be helping yourself further by doing so. You might discover a lifestyle change you need to make or an anxiety condition you didn’t know you had. The important thing to remember is that panic attacks are based on illusion. They can make you think you are crazy or going to die, but you never will when suffering one. For some supportive tips when you are suffering from worry visit our Video Moods series and watch at your own convenience wherever, whenever.


This article was contributed by Pink Moods.

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