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Panic attacks are so intense that many people will think they are having a heart attack and end up in emergency rooms. In my own experience, they have felt like someone has taken wire and laced it around my ribs and is pulling it taught. My lungs will feel like they can’t take in enough oxygen and my heart races uncontrollably. Everyone describes them differently but they are awful. My hope is this article will teach you what to do when you are having a panic attack. Below are more symptoms as well as a few simple treatments.
- racing heartbeat
- difficulty breathing, feeling like you can’t get enough air
- terror that is almost paralyzing
- dizziness, lightheadedness or nausea
- trembling, sweating, shaking
- choking, chest pains
- fear that you’re going to go crazy or are about to die
What to do:
My first piece of advice would be to not to understand that panic attacks are like a wave and while they feel very intense as you go through them, they ultimately will pass. So, the best thing you can do as implement some different coping mechanisms to help you work through them. These coping mechanisms fall into 3 different categories: breathing techniques, counseling, and medication. Medication and breathing techniques will help you through the short term effects and counseling will help you through the long term ones.
Breath based techniques:
- 5-2-5 Count: Using your stomach, inhale for a count of 5 seconds. Then, at your maximal point of inhalation (the point where you feel you can’t breathe in any more) hold your breath for a count of 2 seconds. Then, exhale all the built up air over another count of 5 seconds. This cycle should be repeated twice, followed by 5 cycles of breathing normally. The overall point of this exercise, and why it’s proven to be effective as panic attack treatment, is because it focuses the person on breathing – and the process that pertains to it –instead of focusing on the intense fear and anxiety caused by the panic attack.
- Physical Exercise: Although this isn’t directly a breathing exercise, it is one of the best methods of panic attack treatment. Doctors suggest working out 30 minutes a day will reduce the onset of panic attacks. It’s more of a natural habit (like sleeping and eating healthy) that tends to lead to a healthier and more ordered mind.
- Paper Bag: Another breathing exercise and one the best instant panic attack treatment is to breath into a plastic bag. Doctors warn, though, that breathing into a paper bag is not the best option and can be deadly if done for a long period of time. This is where understanding what set of triggers and symptoms a specific sufferer feels. For instance, panic attack victims who have hyperventilation as one of the consequences of having an attack are usually told by doctors to avoid using a paper bag as a coping mechanism. (more)