Self-Help Treatment For Panic Attack
Anxiety disorder and similar afflictions are serious health issues where self-diagnosis is not advisable and can have dangerous consequences. However, if you suspect that you have a problem or you suspect that you have had or are having an anxiety attack becoming more aware will certainly help. You should at least know the following so that when you feel that you are having an attack, you know what to do and will come nearer to fast relief from anxiety attacks.
Awareness is an important weapon in combating panic attacks and knowing that you are undergoing an attack makes it much more likely that you will be able to counter the effects that go along with it. It is important to know that that panic attacks can happen to anyone. It’s not necessary to be ‘different’ or ‘weird’ in order to suffer panic or anxiety attacks. The happy and healthy person and the stressed and depressed person are equal when it comes to experiencing an attack.
One of the more unfortunate things about panic and anxiety attacks is that an attack can happen without warning and without an obvious cause. This not knowing is itself an important stressor. Triggers can additionally cause irrational and exaggerated fear and anxiety. And in the realm of purely ‘physical’ causes there are the various brain chemicals for which a role has been claimed. (Low serotonin and low progesterone levels, e.g.). The mechanisms at this level are not however fully understood.
Knowledge of the symptoms to be expected reduces the likelihood of being totally overwhelmed and will be a great help in gaining fast relief from anxiety attacks. Even so, for many people, there is no easy way for them to tell whether or not they are experiencing a panic attack during the moment of attack. Difficulty with reasoning means it is already difficult to rationalize things and to differentiate what is real from the unreal. The sufferer could be experiencing any one or more of the following symptoms: increased heartbeat or palpitation, hyperventilation or shortness of breath, chest pain, stomach churning, upset stomach, trembling and shaking, muscle tension, sweating, dizziness and light-headedness, hot or cold flashes, tingling sensation or numbness. The psychological states to be expected include fear of dying, fear of going crazy or losing control and feelings of being detached from the surroundings. Each person will react to triggers differently, thus a wide variety of symptoms is to be expected.
If there is one piece of advice worth paying attention to it is to learn the practice of deep breathing. Deep breathing during an attack is the single most effective way of reducing the strength of the symptoms as well as of removing your attention from the fearful mental scenarios. The practice of deep breathing can be learned very easily and consists of breathing in deeply for three slow counts, holding the breath for three slow counts, and breathing out for another three slow counts. This should be done until calm is restored. Breathing into a paper bag is also recommended. This is on the basis that the re-intake of carbon dioxide helps correct the blood acid level that had been disturbed by excessive breathing.
It is good practice to remain ‘positive’. In practical terms this positive could be as little as being confident that the action being taken will produce the outcome of getting through the attack. Looked at in this way, staying positive during an attack will speed up recovering from it. Allow the process to continue while bearing in mind that it will pass. Attacks generally peak for 5-10 minutes and rarely extend for more than half an hour and knowing this reduces the fear of going insane or even dying.
It should be unnecessary to add in here the importance of avoiding stress. This is especially important in periods when an attack has occurred. Obviously, every stressful situation cannot be avoided and nor is it healthy to ignore the practicalities of life. Avoiding immediate unnecessary stress however will help reduce the chances of another attack. It is best to avoid those people and situations that cause you stress.
It is also good advice that to learn to say “no”. This is especially important in regard to the workplace. But it is essential not to accept requests to work longer hours or requests to do additional work on projects. This may of course prove difficult depending on the extent to which the employer is aware of the issue. Although the education of employers has greatly improved it is still possible to find work environments where the whole notion that anxiety could be an illness is brushed off. It may be your opportunity to help in this education.