Although it is not advisable to diagnose yourself with panic attack, it is really not sensible to wait until your supposed “attack” is over before you do something about it. Here are the things you must know so that when you feel that you are having an attack, you know what to do:
Understand what panic attack is all about. Awareness is the most important weapon to combat panic attacks because when you feel or know that you are under an attack, it is much easier for you to counter the effects of the symptoms that go along with it. Remember this: panic attacks can happen to anyone. It can happen to stressed and depressed person as well as happy and healthy ones. It can happen without warning, without any apparent reason.
Triggers can also cause irrational and exaggerated fear and anxiety. Chemical imbalance in the body (low serotonin and low progesterone levels) can trigger an attack. And while there are so many studies that suggest some causes of panic attacks, the condition is still not fully understood.
Know its symptoms. For most many people, there is no easy telling whether or not they are experiencing a panic attack during the moment of attack since it is difficult for them to rationalize things and to differentiate what is real from the unreal. While this is the case, it is not really an excuse. Here are the symptoms of panic attacks: heartbeat or palpitation, chest pain, hyperventilation or shortness of breath, stomach churning, upset stomach, trembling and shaking, muscle tension, sweating, dizziness and light-headedness, hot or cold flashes, tingling sensation or numbness, fear of dying, going crazy or losing control and feeling detached from the surroundings. Take note that people react to triggers differently, thus symptoms may vary from person to person.
Practice deep breathing. Deep breathing during an attack is the most effective way to reduce the symptoms you are experiencing as well as divert your attention from the fearful thought. Breathe in deeply for 3 slow counts, hold your breath for 3 slow counts, and breathe out for another 3 slow counts. Repeat this process until you feel you are calm. You can also breathe into a paper bag. This reason for this is that re-breathing your carbon dioxide helps correct the blood acid level that had been disturbed by excessive breathing.
Stay positive. While it is easier said than done, staying positive during an attack will speed up your recovery. Let the situation flow while keeping in mind that it will going to pass. An attack peaks for 5 to 10 minutes and rarely extends for more than half an hour so do not think that you are going crazy (or going to die) even if it feels that you are going crazy (or going to die).
Avoid unnecessary stress. While you cannot avoid every stressful situation and it is also unhealthy to turn your back on situations that need to be addressed, avoiding unnecessary stress help reduce the chances of you experiencing an attack. Stay away from people who stress you out, from relationship that causes stress, and situations that get you tensed.
Learn to say “no” if you have other much important things to do; do not work for extended hours; do not accept additional work if you know you cannot do it properly, etc.