Experiencing a panic attack for the first time can be distressing not only because of the actual experience during the attack but also because you tend to develop fear of future attacks. Also known as anticipatory anxiety, fear of future attacks causes continuous fear and tension disabling you to relax. Often when the condition is not addressed, it will lead to phobic avoidance wherein you avoid places, situations, gatherings, and events where emergency help is not readily available or where having an attack can be embarrassing.
Take into extreme, this condition may lead to agoraphobia where you begin to avoid much of the activities you usually do. To avoid this, consider the following advices:
1. Consult your medical doctor. Symptoms attributed to panic attacks such racing heart, chest pain, heavy breathing, profuse sweating, agitation, etc., are also common to other physiological and psychological conditions. Seeking for proper diagnosis from your doctor, therefore, will rule out any cause unrelated to anxiety. Tell him your symptoms, when did the attack happen, and how intense the attack was. Your doctor will ask about your past medical history and may run some tests (e.g. urine test, blood test, drug screens, etc.).
2. See a therapist who is properly trained to handle such psychological condition. No, you are not crazy (people who go to a therapist are not crazy). The reason why you have to see a therapist is to process your emotion and prevent future attacks. Do not wait too long to seek help. Left untreated, a panic attack can lead to more severe conditions. Your therapist may subject you to cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy to process your thoughts.
3. Find the cause of the attack. Some cases of panic attacks may show a “pattern” – certain activity, thoughts, time or person you are with at the time of the attack. These give you important clues to eliminate later symptoms.
4. Learn some relaxation techniques you can practice at home or while out. Music, meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques are not only helpful in reducing the symptoms during the actual attack but also in strengthening your body’s relaxation response.
5. Do not add more fear. Absorbing all the fears and other negative thoughts that come with anxiety attack only adds to more fear which worsen the negative impact even further. Instead, recognize that you are afraid and make it work to your advantage.
6. Practice healthy lifestyle (regular exercise, balanced diet, and enough sleep). Studies prove that at little as 30 minutes of physical activity 3 to 5 times a week is a great stress buster, helpful in preventing future attacks. Balanced diet keeps the supply of nutrients and maintains the balance of chemical in the body. Sleeping at least 8 hours each day recharges the body, refreshes the mind, and calms the muscles.
7. Remove all unnecessary stress. Since, panic attacks are closely linked to stress, avoiding things, people, and situations that stress you out help reduce the chance of future attacks.
8. Educate yourself about panic attacks. There are many resources where you can learn more about the condition. Reading books, health magazines and internet articles about panic attack will definitely equip you with the right information on how to combat any negative effects it brings.