Feeling anxious is a normal reaction to stressful events. However sometimes fear may become the main trigger of panic attacks. Panic attacks are episodes of sudden, overwhelming anxiety, accompanied by sweating, trembling, dizziness and heart palpitations. They may even look like heart attacks, causing chest pain, fear of dying and breathlessness.
The good news is that even though panic attacks are really frightening, they do not affect your physical health. They usually go away within 20 minutes, without leaving any changes in the body. Panic attacks were recognized as a symptom of anxiety disorder that affects a great number of people. Like with all mental health illnesses, there are many causes of panic attacks. Some studies found that there is an inherited predisposition for this disorder.
Specialists say that certain medical issues, like cardiovascular disease or asthma may cause anxiety attacks. In addition to this, some medications may also trigger these uncomfortable sensations. Everyone, who experiences a panic attack for the first time, needs to be examined by a health care professional to find out, whether it is a panic attack or more serious disease.
For those, who are familiar with anxiety attacks, experts propose these two methods to fight off panic quickly and effectively:
1. Try simple breathing exercises to reduce hyperventilation and ease the symptoms of a panic attack, breathe in through the nose slowly and deeply, counting from one to five steadily. Feel that your chest and belly are filled with air. Then breathe out through the mouth gently and slowly, counting from one to four. Some people notice that closing their eyes helps them to focus on deep breathing better.
2. Try progressive muscle relaxation to control your body completely, relax your arms and shoulders, being conscious of any strain in your muscles. Keeping under the control of your whole body, tense and relax all large muscles progressively. Inhale deeply and slowly, tighten leg musculature and hold for three to ten seconds. After that release muscle tension quickly, while breathing out. Perform this technique with second leg and move up your whole body. But don’t try to include several muscle groups at the same time.
It is extremely important to modify your lifestyle, in order to prevent panic attacks. Choose physical activity and exercise regularly, stabilize blood sugar levels and avoid stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.
Sometimes your doctor may prescribe you special medicines to relieve anxiety. The most widely-used of them are benzodiazepines (clonazepam, lorazepam) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (fluoxetine, sertraline etc.). But try to practise on how to control your panic attacks in a natural way so that you will not have to rely on medication to help calm you down.