Panic Attacks

Since I suffer from panic attacks and make no attempt to hide the fact, a lot of people ask me: what are panic attacks and how get rid of panic attacks? Well, first I’ll tell you that some people think a panic attack (also known as an anxiety attack) feels a lot like having a heart attack: all of the symptoms are there, but you’re not dying. I’d characterize a panic attack by asking this question: how would you feel if you went bungee jumping and the bungee cord snapped while you fell? That is what a panic attack feels like. It’s such an intense dread that it’s almost impossible to describe in relatable terms.

It’s an hysterical state of mind that keeps building. When people have panic attacks, and they don’t know what’s going on, they start freaking out about being freaked out. It’s a vicious spiral into madness. If the symptoms of panic attacks are not recognized, it could lead the sufferer down a very dark road, perhaps even suicide. That’s how awful panic attacks are, and that’s how I felt until I received counseling and learned how to cope.

Panic Attack Symptoms

Panic attack symptoms include an intense fear of death, excessive heart rate, clammy hands, headache, sweating, shortness of breath and hyperventilation, chest pains, dizziness, and tightness in your chest and throat. Those types of symptoms aren’t something you want to suffer.

I would encourage you to seek medical attention if you’re uncomfortable with any of these symptoms, however, some things to remember about your panic attack symptoms are:

  • Panic attacks aren’t necessarily normal, but they’re nothing to be ashamed of.
  • Panic attacks can be mistaken for a heart attack. If it’ll make you feel better, go get an EKG done just to be on the safe side.
  • Awareness of the symptoms that prelude a panic attack is you greatest tool when fighting off a panic episode.
  • Controlling your breathing and reminding yourself that it’s only a panic attack is the best way to stop a panic attack.

Best Treatments for Panic Attacks

Go see a doctor

If you think you’re having some of these panic attack symptoms or you think you’re experiencing something similar to what I’ve described, you should go see a psychiatrist to get a diagnosis. If you’re certain you have panic attacks, and you don’t want medical help, read on.

Avoid stimulants

Avoid drugs that make you more alert, like coffee, cigarettes, amphetamines, ephedrine, ginseng, and similar substances–even marijuana should be avoided. These substances weaken your body’s regulation of the fight-or-flight mechanism and can often send a person into a panic attack without an external stimulation.

Relieve stress

Seek advice about relieving stress to help you avoid having panic attacks. Common situations people find themselves in like crowds, flying on air planes, losing a job, and losing a loved one all have one thing in common: stress. Taking steps to lessen the amount of stress you have in your life will help you avoid slipping into more panic attacks. Don’t avoid the situations, but realize how they’re affecting you.

Talk Yourself Down

Talking yourself down from a panic attack is a skill you’ll have to learn if you’re going to be living with panic attacks. If you start having a panic attack, tell yourself three things. Tell yourself you’re having a panic attack and that’s all it is. Tell yourself you’re not going to have a heart attack and that the tightness in your chest, the shortness of breath, and the fluttering of your heart are symptoms of an adrenaline overload. Tell yourself to get into a comfortable position and to begin controlling your breath, because your hands are tingling and clammy from hyperventilating.

Sit Down

The surest way to stop a panic attack is to sit down and start a breathing exercise. Take a slow, deep breath in and hold it for a few seconds. Then, release the air slowly, counting how long it takes each breath in and each breath out. Repeat this process, but keep in mind the goal of make each breath last longer. If that doesn’t work, you can always use the paper bag trick you’ve seen on T.V. thousands of times.

Panic Attack Medication

A lot of us, especially those of us with chronic panic attacks, don’t have the time to sit down and wait out each and every panic attack episode that comes along. Nor do we have the luxury to avoid every uncomfortable situation that could induce a panic attack. There are drugs that your doctor can prescribe for you to take when you feel a panic attack coming on, or if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation that might prelude a panic attack. For almost instant anxiety relief, there are drugs called benzodiazepines (benzos for short) of which Xanax, Lorazepam, Alprazolam, and Klonopin (clonazepam) are the most commonly prescribed. Luckily for you, a number of these drugs have expired patents, which means cheap generic drugs for you.

The second and most frequently prescribed medications doctors prescribe if you’re prone to panic attacks are a daily, long-term treatment class of drugs called SSRIs (or serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Drugs like Prozac, Celexa, Paxil, and Zoloft are the most commonly prescribed brands. These drugs are usually used to treat depression or a normal anxiety disorder (which you probably have), and often times they reduce the amount of panic attacks a person will experience over a given amount of time.

Natural & Organic Panic Attack Treatments

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is a plant that has been used over the centuries to treat a number of things like depression, anxiety, and common sleep disorders. As an all natural anxiety medication, I can’t attest to its effectiveness, though I know people who are on it and they say it’s helping them cope with their stress, anxiety, depression, whatever. Give it a shot if you’re feeling a little green. You can get a bottle of it at Amazon.

Valerian Root

Valerian root is sometimes used to treat anxiety and depression caused by sleeping disorders. Studies done show that Valerian root is a natural sedative and aids some people in maintaining a healthy, deep sleep. Sleep is, of course, a major factor in determining how well you and your body react to stress and anxiety. So perhaps a dose of valerian root will cure you of the anxiety that can sometimes cause panic attacks. Amazon sells Nature’s Way Valerian Root capsules if you wanted to try them.

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About the Author

Julianne Ragland

Julianne Ragland