Coping With a Panic Attack

By DeanRaymond on January 22, 2011 In Health and Beauty

Panic attacks cause a great deal of stress for those who have them, but there are ways to help sufferers cope. And in some cases, even a cessation is possible.

What is a Panic Attack?

They are sudden and powerful physiological events, similar to anxiety attacks but on a much stronger scale. The attacks do not indicate any kind of mental disorder, but are related to physiological problems.

Generally, an attack starts with a tightening in the throat, along with pains or tightness in the chest. Breathing becomes labored and the heart rate increases. The sufferer can experience dizziness, nausea, hyperventilation, burning sensations and other physical effects that can cause a fear of heart attack or an urgent desire to run and hide. People who are new to panic attacks often end up calling for emergency medical help.

What Causes a Panic Attack?

There are various factors behind panic attacks, including heredity, biological disorders and phobias. They can also be caused by a person’s view of their environment, such as fear of the unknown and a fearful outlook on the world around them.

Some of the biological causes behind panic attacks are post-traumatic stress disorder, hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, obsessive compulsive disorder and even a deficiency in vitamin B.

People with phobias can be pushed into a panic attack by being exposed to the subject of their fear, such as seeing a spider or being stuck in an enclosed space.

However a panic attack is triggered, the immediate result is a release of adrenalin into the body. Adrenalin is usually released only in the event of demanding physical activity; in the event of a panic attack, the excess adrenalin is what causes the increased heart rate, dizziness and hyperventilation.

Treating Panic Attacks

Successful treatment of panic attacks can usually be provided with the use of anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. However, long-term use of these medications is not advisable, especially as some of them are addictive, and there are many alternative methods than can often work just as well.

Paper bag method: when hyperventilation begins, place a paper bag over the mouth and nose of the sufferer. This method must be applied with care and attention, as it can cause adverse effects, such as increasing a panic attack’s symptoms, in some people.

Counting method: the sufferer forces outward breaths to take longer and longer until normal breathing is resumed. To do this, count slowly during each outward breath. Try to get to one number higher on each breath.

Abdominal breathing method: keeping your mouth firmly closed, slowly breath through your nose, concentrating on slow exhalation.

Internal monologue method: rather than fight the attack, which will only increase the symptoms, find a statement that works for you (best prepared in advance), e.g. “I can get through this, no matter how bad it feels right now”.

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