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Get Rid Of Panic Attacks: 7 Effective Tips For Anxiety
Panic attacks are not uncommon. In Germany every fifth person experiences a panic attack once in their life, says Professor Andreas Ströhle from the Charité in Berlin. Most of the people affected get caught cold, panic overwhelms them out of the blue - suddenly and unexpectedly. Nevertheless, there is no need to panic before panic: There are a number of things that can be done against such anxiety attacks.
Even if the extreme fear is comparable to the intensity of a seizure, panic attacks can be effectively combated and got rid of again. The following article shows you what can be behind the panic attack, sheds light on triggers and symptoms and gives you numerous tips and targeted countermeasures that can help to alleviate immediate and long-term relief ...
➠ Content: This is what awaits you
➠ Content: This is what awaits you
Panic Attack: What Is It?
In a typical panic attack, those affected are overwhelmed by feelings of fear that are both sudden and massive. You are downright paralyzed: your heart is racing, your pulse is pounding, your muscles are trembling, cold sweat seeps out of all your pores, and your head is pure chaos. If you have an acute panic attack, nothing works. The patients are paralyzed, blocked, rigid. Panic attacks are surprisingly common: they affect around 11 percent of all adults, and women twice as often as men.
First of all, fears are a natural protective function: the body signals that we are in a potentially dangerous situation - for example, when we are too close to the abyss. Fears lead to a normal physical and psychological alarm or flight reaction ("fight or flight"). In the case of panic attacks, however, there is often no discernible objective cause. They appear out of nowhere and lead to enormous, paralyzing tension. One speaks of a "panic disorder" when the fears keep coming back and appear regularly.
Symptoms: how does a panic attack manifest itself?
The symptoms and signs of a panic attack vary from person to person. These are noticeable, for example:
➠ tingling and numbness
➠ racing heart
➠ muscle spasms
➠ dry mouth
➠ pressure on the chest
➠ feelings of suffocation
➠ nausea and dizziness
➠ Violent tremors
➠ hot flashes
➠ Fear of death.
The reason for this: The body releases the stress hormone adrenaline when it is afraid. This constricts the blood vessels and the heartbeat increases at the same time. The symptoms are not just physical, but often show up in emotions, thoughts, and behavior. Those affected perceive the time in which the panic attack continues as existentially threatening and often develop numerous avoidance strategies. If the feelings of powerlessness and the loss of control become overwhelming, panic disorders and sleep disorders can result. In the short term, it can even lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Forms: what types of panic attacks are there?
During a panic attack, the blood pressure rises, as does the (painful) pressure in the chest or abdomen. The body releases adrenaline. That looks scary. In medicine, however, there are basically two types of panic attacks:
- Expected panic attacks: They are based on known fears and phobias. For example, if a person is known to have “arachnophobia” (fear of spiders), a panic attack in the face of a fat, crawling spider is hardly surprising - it was “to be expected”.
- Unexpected panic attacks: Unexpected panic attacks are fears that occur without a foreseeable or specific trigger. This makes them so unpredictable and at the same time stirs up the fear that another panic attack will break out at the next opportunity ("fear of expectation"). The panic attack thus intensifies itself.
Duration: How long do panic attacks last?
A panic attack usually only lasts for a short time. The climax is reached within five to ten minutes. After half an hour at the latest, the ghost is over, those affected take a deep breath and relax noticeably. In rare cases, panic attacks can persist over a longer period of time (up to several hours). In so-called "generalized anxiety disorder" (GAD), sufferers are very anxious and concerned about various things for several days in a row and for a prolonged period of six months or more.
Causes: what triggers a panic attack?
Panic attacks often occur in the context of stressful situations. However, stress is a trigger, not a cause. The causes are more likely to be found in the psyche of the people and patients affected. In around 50 percent of all cases panic disorders occur in connection with "agoraphobia" (claustrophobia): Those affected panic as soon as they are in a large crowd and fear that in an emergency they will not escape quickly enough. This level of suffering arises, for example, in overcrowded buses, trains, elevators or public places.
Ultimately, however, the panic attack depends on the personality of the person affected, their experiences and their respective backgrounds. Causes of panic attacks can be:
- Biology: Panic attacks can have their origin, for example, in genetic disposition. Be it a predisposition for an anxiety disorder or thyroid and liver diseases can trigger panic. Also possible for women: hormonal changes during menopause.
- Medication: Taking or stopping medications such as thyroid supplements, cardiovascular drugs, or antidepressants can cause panic attacks to develop.
- Childhood Experiences: People who grew up overprotected, but also someone who suffered from emotional neglect, are more prone to panic disorders.
- Substance abuse: Excessive alcohol consumption and psychoactive substances such as cannabis or cocaine also often play a major role as a cause of panic attacks and promote them.
Panic Attack Test
Ultimately, a panic attack can affect anyone. Be it violent turbulence in the plane, unexpected questions in an important exam, fear of heights, claustrophobia, fear of success - no one is safe from it. However, some people are more receptive to it than others. We have therefore developed a panic attack test (without scientific claim) that can provide you with the first indications as to whether you are prone to panic attacks or not. Take a few minutes to carefully read the following statements and assess whether they apply to you:
- I've had a panic attack before.
- I'm scared of having another panic attack.
- I already had panic attacks - for no apparent reason.
- Friends have already approached me about a panic attack.
- I feel like I can no longer breathe.
- I feel fear of death during a panic attack.
- My fears come on suddenly and get strong in a short period of time.
- I have already called for help in a fearful situation.
- Sometimes I catch myself expecting a panic attack.
- My panic attacks go away on their own, nothing else brings any improvement.
If you were able to agree with several of the statements (at least four out of ten), then you should definitely investigate your fear further or consult a doctor and talk about your panic. These are veritable warning signs that you are one of the endangered.
Get Rid Of Panic Attacks: What To Do?
Well-intentioned advice of the type “Just take it easy” is of course of no use in an acute situation. They tend to make it worse. And panic attacks can never be finally avoided or defeated. The causes and triggers are too complex for that. Nevertheless, you can do something about your fears and at least get rid of the majority of panic attacks. We have collected various expert advice on this - medical, psychological, general - that can help you with this.
Panic Attack Help: 7 Effective Tips
Overall, these seven tips on how to get rid of panic attacks are regularly mentioned in advice on panic attacks:
The first step is to understand that panic is not a rare, exotic disease. Likewise, those affected are not “abnormal” if they experience panic restlessness for a short time. Make yourself aware: panic attacks are not embarrassing! Those who accept them can fight and get rid of them more effectively. You can read more about this here: Self-acceptance: This is why it is important
Hyperventilation and accelerated breathing go hand in hand with panic attacks and even make them worse. By consciously slowing down your breathing, you counter this self-reinforcing cascade. Doctors recommend, for example, during a panic attack, to inhale and exhale slowly and deeply. After inhaling, hold your breath as long as possible and count to six. Then exhale slowly through your mouth and count to eight. Repeat the whole thing at least five times (so-called "star breathing technique"). This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which leads to relaxation and slowing of the heart rate. Read more about this here: Breathing Exercises: How To Use Your Breathing To Go Stress-Free
Psychologists also recommend exposure therapy: situations that regularly make you sweat want to be confronted, not circumvented. You can overcome fear of presentations by giving more of them. The routine gives you security because it shows you: “I can do it!” Sometimes it is also important to overcome some perfectionism, which can also be a cause of panic attacks. You can read more about this here: Expectations: How you can meet them
Another psychological trick: be careful not to think or speak in extreme or negative words. These include, for example, “always”, “never” or “all”: Such generalizations intensify feelings of powerlessness and turn every lapse into a cosmic catastrophe. Rather, try to steer your thoughts towards healthy realism. It's not always easy, but it is a matter of practice. You can read more about this here: Stop the carousel of thoughts: Get out of the pondering trap
It has recently been proven that psychoactive drugs, amphetamines or hallucinogens (LSD) trigger panic attacks. So stay away from that stuff! In addition, there are several things you can do to get rid of panic attacks with your lifestyle: sleeping a lot, exercising, and snacking in threatening situations. It prevents hypoglycaemia. This is another way to avoid panic attacks. You can read more about this here: Lifestyle: How to find your own lifestyle
Daily (or weekly) relaxation exercises can also help lower your heart rate faster. Autogenic training is one option; meditation and muscle relaxation are another. If the panic is already there: sit down, find a comfortable sitting position, close your eyes and concentrate fully on your feet. Tense all foot muscles, count to five and relax again. Alternatively, clench your fists and let go again. You can read more about this here: Relaxation exercises: 16 tips for everyday life
It is not uncommon for panic attacks to be accompanied by other mental disorders such as burnout or social phobias. Anyone who suffers from this should get help and have the causes clarified medically and psychologically. The first point of contact is the family doctor. He will investigate whether physical causes are the reason for your symptoms. If no organic causes can be identified, there are mostly emotional problems. At this point, experts often recommend "cognitive behavioral therapy", in which those affected get to the bottom of the causes of their fear and deal with them. You can read more about this here: Asking for help: That's why it's so difficult
Download: Tips against Panic Attacks
As a service, you can download the mentioned tips against panic attacks HERE free of charge as a PDF. Dealing with your own panic on a regular basis is an important step towards recovery. You get to know your fear, notice the symptoms earlier and can react to them more quickly.
Panic attacks at night in your sleep?
Those who suffer from panic attacks are often confronted with nightly panic attacks (NPA). Up to 70 percent of those with panic disorder experience a panic attack at night at least once in their life. Fortunately, NPAs are less common than those that happen during the day. Nevertheless, they are particularly bad for those affected: During the day, you may still be able to save yourself to friends, contact people who will help or call the doctor. But at night? Effect: When having a panic attack while sleeping, people wake up bathed in sweat, lie in bed alone with their fear and can barely find their way back to inner peace.
Aside from the time of day, NPAs are no different from other panic attacks, so the above tips also apply to panic attacks while sleeping. In addition, you can do these things to get rid of panic attacks:
- Distract yourself: Accept what is happening. Instead of tossing around sleeplessly in bed, get up, do something, distract yourself. With hangers, for example. You can also grab a book or your favorite magazine and read a little. Now surround yourself with pleasant things. For example, set up a fragrance lamp - the lavender scent relaxes. Warmth from a grain pillow or herbal tea can also help.
- Be patient: Being alone is the worst part of the night and it works like an amplifier at times. Maybe you have a very good girlfriend or boyfriend whom you can call at this hour? If panic attacks happen more often at night, consider getting a pet. Dogs and cats have a keen sense for when their mistress is bad - and then help you with closeness and cozy warmth. You can find more tips on how to sleep better HERE.
Panic Attack Therapy
Anyone who has to deal with the symptoms of a panic attack frequently and continuously and is gripped by anxiety attacks usually cannot avoid therapy. Ultimately, this can also be caused by repressed conflicts or childhood experiences as well as trauma. The good news: Much of it can be treated well if you start it early. The success rate and chances of recovery are on average 80 percent. In particularly severe cases - for example if the panic attacks are also accompanied by depression - doctors can accompany the panic attack therapy with psychotropic drugs.
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