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Panic Attacks

A panic attack can feel like a moment of utmost pain and discomfort. Some people have described having a panic attack as being mistaken for a heart attack. It is a very sudden onset of intense feelings, fear and discomfort that will then trigger an acute physical reaction. The experience is hugely intense and can be very frightening. 

There is no set time in how long an attack can or will last. They are usually triggered  by a stressful or traumatic event and thankfully will disappear when the situation has been resolved or has finished. The attacks are unpredictable, some people may never have one, for others they may have a few isolated episodes. For those who experience repeated episodes, this can then lead onto being diagnosed with a condition called panic disorder.

Signs and symptoms of a panic attack:

  • Pounding and/or accelerated heart rate 

  • Tightening of the chest causing intense pain

  • Shortness and irregular breaths

  • Shaking and trembling

  • Numbness or tingling

  • Upset stomach, stomach pain and nausea

  • Fear of losing control

  • Fear of dying

  • Detachment from self

Things to try to help you manage your panic.

  • Try to recognise your warning signs. A really good exercise to do is, when the panic attack has subsided, take a moment to think about what potentially could have caused it? Are you in an environment which you know causes you a lot of stress? Are you able to acknowledge how you are physically feeling? Did you notice the pain coming? Write the thoughts down, this may help if it ever happened again. 

  • Carry a small stone, crystal or something with a smooth surface. Keep it in your hand and focus on the movements that your fingers are making. Think about how it feels. 

  • Have a nice smelling rollerball perfume or some essential oils such as lavender that you can put onto your wrist and smell to ground you. This can help regulate your breaths, count as you breathe in and out. 

  • Move your body.  Try clicking your fingers and counting a rhythm. By creating a physical sensation you will be removing the focus from the attack and diverting your brain to another thought process.

Remember feelings and thoughts come and go all of the time, they don’t last. Think about that next time you find yourself in a stressful situation. Two really great mantras that I always use is ‘this too shall pass’ and ‘just keep swimming’. Give them a try!


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