Have you ever felt fear take over your mind and heart and make it difficult for you to breathe? This process becomes more challenging to handle when you feel like you are dying and cannot speak. Medically called a panic attack, losing control and feeling overwhelmed by fear is a living nightmare leading to an unhealthy lifestyle and lack of confidence.
Panic attacks can happen randomly at any time of the day. But, most importantly, specific trigger points can cause panic attacks. Anything that scares you will cause your heart to panic, and you will feel your blood rush and your heart beat faster. It includes losing your child at the market, almost having an accident, and shortness of breath before going on stage.
Even students often suffer severe panic attacks before taking essential exams. Although we cannot control our fears, we can at least prevent a panic attack, but how to stop a panic attack when we are alone? In this article, we will tell you all about how to handle panic attacks.
What is a Panic Attack?
Before discussing how to stop having a panic attack, it is essential to understand the critical details. A panic attack is like an intense fear that causes your heart to pound heavily. In some cases, you will have difficulty breathing and feel like you are going crazy or are dying.
Generally speaking, you may only experience one or two panic attacks in your life, but many people tend to experience repeated panic attacks. When you have a panic attack, it means you feel that you are in danger. And, when you can’t get rid of the situation, it triggers your body’s fight or flight response and overwhelms your inner fears, causing blood flow and shortness of breath.
However, you may experience a panic attack without warning and a clear trigger. Sometimes it can also happen when you are resting or sleeping. In addition, panic attacks may be caused by other diseases, such as panic disorder, social phobia, and depression. However, there is nothing to worry about because a panic attack is not a severe and never-ending disease.
Is it a Panic Disorder?
Many people experience one or two panic attacks in their lives; however, the situation is not the same for all. Some people tend to experience panic attacks often. If you experience panic attacks repeatedly, it can be a sign of panic disorder.
Panic disorder is another anxiety disorder. This can make you think you are in danger when there is no danger. When you are often afraid, a panic attack turns into a panic disorder. People with panic disorder can also experience panic attacks when they do random things or do nothing at all.
What Does a Panic Attack Feel Like?
In general, panic attacks last up to 20 to 30 minutes, and they can happen at any time and anywhere. When you experience a panic attack, you feel
- Pain in your chest
- Feel lightheaded or dizzy
- Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath
- Your heart beating faster
- Feel the pressure of an upset stomach
- Sensations in the body
- Feel uncomfortable
- The fear of going crazy or dying
- Losing control of your mind and body
In extremities, you may also feel like you will get a heart attack, and since a panic attack or disorder is a medical problem that threatens your life, you need to seek expert help from doctors.What Causes Panic Disorder?
Currently, there are no medically proven causes that lead to panic attacks and panic disorders. however, the following are some of the factors that may have played an essential role in causing panic attacks:
- Extreme amount of stress
- Having a temperament that is sensitive to negative emotions and stress
- Changes in the functions of your brain.
Sometimes you can have a sudden panic attack without warning, but it can be triggered by a situation that is unlikely to please you. According to some studies, your body responds to dangers around you in fight or flight mode. So, usually, if you are in trouble and your brain switches to flight mode, your system can go into a panic resulting in rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, feeling dizzy, etc.
Who Gets Panic Attacks?
According to researches, females tend to experience panic attacks more than men. However, both children and adults can experience a series of panic attacks or diagnose with panic disorder. In addition, people who suffer from other medical conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and general anxiety disorder also tend to experience repeated episodes of a panic attack.
Best Ways to Stop a Panic Attack
A panic Attack can get serious no matter how lightly it started. Moreover, it can happen when you are at the store, in a pool, in the metro, etc. The following are some of the handy ways that guide you on how to stop a panic attack fast, whether it is you or someone around you:
Remember That it Will Pass
When you experience a panic attack, you need to remember that the feeling of dying or the emotional rush inside your brain is not forever. Generally, panic attacks reach the peak point within 10 minutes, and when this happens, it is time for you to tell yourself that no matter how scary the moment feels, you will be alright.
The first thing you need to do when you fight against panic attacks is acceptance. You need to tell yourself with concentration and make yourself believe that the fear is just for the time being. When you do that, not only will your brain subconsciously start handling the panic attack, but you will also overcome your fear little by little.
Use Deep Breathing
Performing breathing exercises or taking deep breaths is one of the good ways of bringing your panic attack under control. When you experience a panic attack, it causes you shortness of breath and makes your chest feel tight. Taking Deep breaths in such situations will help you relax and concentrate properly.
You can start with breathing slowly and deeply from the abdomen and then fill your lungs slowly till the count of 4. Continuity process for at least 6-8 times for good results. Apply the same process for inhaling as well as exhaling.
For many people who experience repeated panic attack episodes, taking deep breaths is a go-to mechanism that prevents serious and long panic attacks. If you tend to experience panic attacks now and then, you can also learn easy breathing techniques to ease your pain and fear quickly.
Relax Your Muscles
One of the other popular wait to calm panic attacks is via muscle relaxation techniques. Muscle tension is one of the symptoms of panic attacks, and that is why you need to practice muscle relaxation techniques. It may help you to limit the number of panic attacks you experience each day. Muscle relaxation techniques help limit panic attacks because when your body relaxes, the chances of rapid breathing can decrease.
Progressive muscle relaxation is one of the popular techniques that help you to cope with anxiety and panic attacks. To perform this technique, all you need to do is hold your tension for at least five seconds and say relax to yourself while releasing the pressure from your muscle. Once you remove the strain of one muscle, let it rest for 10 to 15 seconds, and then perform the same technique on your next muscle.
If you smoke marijuana with your friends who are new to smoking or are first-timers, you may find them experiencing a panic attack that can make them feel detached from reality and fear everyday things. For such situations, you need to know how to stop a panic attack while high.
If you or your friend experiences a panic attack while getting high, you can take the help of the 5-4-3-2-1 method. This helps you focus away from fear and overthinking and brings you back to your normal senses. To perform the 5-4-3-2-1 method, you need to sit and complete the following steps calmly:
- Take a look at five different objects and think about each one of them.
- Listen to four different sounds and think about where they are coming from and different.
- Touch three objects and compare the uses, temperature, and texture of those objects.
- Try to identify two different smells from any place. You can smell your coffee, the flowers in your garden, your soap or shampoo.
- Name the thing that you can taste. It either can be the taste that your mouth wants or the taste you already have.
Find a Focus Object
If you have panic disorder, you tend to feel fear and get attacked by stressful thoughts about the memories or hurtful feelings that may have occurred in the past. This is why when you focus on an object, it can help your brain evoke energy and stop you from thinking about hurtful events or fear. It is one of the grounding techniques that can prevent you from having panic attacks. For instance, you can carry a rock, a shell, fragment erasers, etc.
Try a Mantra
Repeating a Mantra is one of the most significant ways that can help you to prevent a panic attack. For example, repeating the mantra, “this too shall pass.” It offers a spiritual affirmation to your body that helps it calm down during the attack. When you internally chant a mantra, you will subconsciously start focusing on it. When this happens, muscles start relaxing, and your lungs start regulating your regular breathing pattern.
Follow Your Treatment Plan
Severe or not, you can always talk to an expert, preferably a doctor, who can help you with treatment plans and medications when experiencing panic attacks. An expert will generally prescribe medicine that works fast. Additionally, you do not need to have a strict schedule for these medicines and treatments.
You can use them only when you experience a panic attack. Most of the prescribed medicines contain benzodiazepine and propranolol. These beta-blockers help you by decreasing your blood pressure and slowing your racing heart. Medicines like Xanax and Valium are two such medicines that contain beta-blockers. However, since these medications can be addictive, you need to take serious care about the side effects.
Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things to do when living a relaxed life. Because when you think about yourself being in a place where there is nothing to worry about, you start feeling lighter. This helps you to feel relaxed and stay calm.
It is a great technique when it comes to how to stop a panic attack in public. All you need to do is give your best to imagine a place where you feel relaxed and safe. When you feel happy, your brain calms down. This will result in coming out of a panic attack or preventing it from happening. Side by side, try to adopt a healthy diet and participate in activities you like the most.
Track Your Progress
When you take medications or practice techniques to calm you down, track your progress in a diary. You can write down the type of experience you had and how you managed to bring yourself out of it. This will help you to find your trigger points and deal quickly with panic attacks.
You can experience a panic attack anytime you are in public or hanging out with friends. However, it becomes easier to relax and move forward without any worry when you know how to stop a panic attack. A panic attack is not a severe condition, yet, it is important to take possible precautions to avoid unnecessary circumstances. Lastly, always feel free to seek help from your friends, peers, or experts when you experience a panic attack.