While we have discussed anxiety a fair bit on this blog, often with guest blog posts, we haven’t really talked about panic attacks or panic disorders. So today, in typical Granite Fitness style, we are going to address this topic head on with some expert advice. This article, written by a professional in the industry, is written simply, but will really hit home for some of you. Here goes:
“If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, panic attacks may be a part of your life. Even with proper medication, many patients suffer from panic attacks. A panic attack is an intense feeling of irrational fear that lasts over a period of time. Some symptoms of a panic attack may or may not include a pounding heart, chest pains, sweating, difficulty breathing, the fear of going crazy, shaking, cold or hot flashed, the choking sensation, and nausea.
Most people experience the unpleasantness of a panic attack at some point or other in their lives. While this may be a scary experience, you should generally not be concerned unless the month following the panic attack leads to constant worry about has another panic attack, constant worry about a condition that could be related to the attack, or major changes in your lifestyle.
Panic disorder, on the other hand, is characterized by reoccurring panic attacks that often happen spontaneously and unexpectedly. One panic attack does not mean you should be diagnosed with panic disorder, but if this condition occurs a number of times and interrupts your life, you should see a doctor immediately.
Although predicting when a panic attack will happen may be a bit tricky, you can take steps to prepare for these panic attacks in order to take back control of your life. The first step to taking back that control is to learn to breathe. When a person has a panic attack, often they feel so overwhelmed that they forget to simply breathe properly. Many doctors, therefore, advocate safe breathing practices in order to help calm anyone having a panic attack.
In fact, if you’ve ever had a panic attack in public, someone may have tried to get you to breath into a paper bag. This may or may be a good method for you, but the fact is that you should know and practice your breathing exercise before you are panicking. Have a plan—learn calming breathing techniques and practice at least twice a day.
Other relaxing practices may also be able to help your panic attack. Of course, you might find it difficult to even consider meditation when you’re having a panic attack, but by learning this relaxing procedure, you can use some of the same calming techniques that help you to meditate to help you calm down.
Another great way to prepare for a panic attack is to simply know your triggers. Do you have a specific phobia? Is excess stress your downfall? Do certain situations seem impossible for you? When you know what triggers panic reactions, you can do your best to avoid or minimize these situations.
You should also be medically prepared for a panic attack. When you go outside of the home, take with you a list of emergency contacts, which should include your doctor’s number, your local crisis hotline, and members of your personal support systems. You can use these phone numbers yourself if you feel a panic attack starting, or another person will easily find this information in your purse or wallet if you are not capable of helping yourself.
Also take with you a bag to help you feel comfortable and calm down during a panic attack. A crucial part of the bag is any medications you may be taking, along with instructions on taking it. You can also include any items from home that will help you feel more comfortable. This can include herbal tea, a stuffed animal, religious items, photos, rubber bands to snap on your wrist, mints, hand cream, money, a puzzle book, and anything else that may help you relax, stimulated your brain, or distract yourself. Remember, comfort is key.
Remember, panic attacks are real. While there may be a few cases where people pretend to have attacks to get attention or for other reasons, this is not the norm. If someone around you is experiencing a panic attack, offer your help and call a doctor immediately to get help for the person.”
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