How to Deal with Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are frightening bouts of intense mental and bodily discomfort, with symptoms that include dizziness, nausea, accelerated heartbeat, sweating, and feelings of acute stress and anxiety. They usually last anywhere form 10 minutes to an hour before fading away. In cases where the sufferer is unfamiliar with the feeling, he may worry that something is physically wrong, and people have been known to check themselves into emergency rooms complaining of a heart attack.
However, in most cases, panic attacks are caused by the mind. There may be physical contributors such as high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, drug or medication withdrawal, or even Vitamin B deficiency, but these are rarely the primary cause.
How does it happen?
People who suffer recurrent panic attacks usually have a history with the disorder going back to childhood. In many cases, the attacks begin during high-stress situations at school or as a result of separation anxiety. As the child grows older, the attacks gradually begin to disassociate from real-world stimuli and to take on a pattern of their own.
In other words, panic attacks may have their origins in real fears, but for most people, the primary cause for panic is the panic attack itself. The sufferer foresees a situation where he may have an attack; he builds it up in his mind as something to fear; and when he finally enters that situation, the mind is primed to suffer an attack.
This pattern is often associated with people who have generalized anxiety disorder or phobias. Agoraphobia, in particular, is technically defined as the fear of open, public spaces, but in reality it’s more a fear of panic attacks. The agoraphobic person worries that he’ll be in a public place that he can’t escape from, and that a potentially embarrassing panic attack will happen.
In short, panic attack disorder is a cyclical problem. Once it begins, the cycle of fear is difficult to break, and people tend to have attacks again and again.
Is there treatment?
Because panic disorder often goes along with depression, social phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder, there are plenty of medications that doctors can prescribe. However, for people who feel that their only problem is panic attacks, they may feel that medication is going too far.
As an alternative, some people choose to try to work through their panic attacks in therapy. Trained therapists with expertise in panic and anxiety disorders can talk to sufferers about the basic causes for their attacks, and then try to work through the cycle from there. Some alternative therapists may bring in methods such as meditation, hypnosis, or deep breathing to try to break the cycle and ease the symptoms of in-progress attacks.
Finally, some people choose to treat their attacks themselves. There are herbal supplements, such as Ginseng, Chamomile, and St. John’s Wort, that are thought to be helpful with anxiety. Meanwhile, with dedication and a strong will, it’s possible to fight attacks with calmness and a clear head. By not fearing the types of situations that typically lead to your attacks, you can prepare your mind to enter this situations with a clarity and strength.