If you’ve ever experienced panic attacks, you know how frightening they can be. Your heart races, your vision blurs, and you breathe erratically. This feeling of intense fear may be brought on by a specific trigger, like a presentation, or it may happen for no reason at all. These episodes are such powerful experiences that some people confuse them for heart attacks. However, there is good news. If you feel like a panic attack is brewing, there are steps you can take to stop it before it starts.
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
Panic attacks often occur out of the blue, which means they may surprise you while you’re out in public. Many people worry that they will begin to have such an episode while driving or in an important meeting. Signs that a panic attack is beginning include:
- Pounding heart
- Shakiness and trembling
- Feeling of pressure or pain in your chest
- A feeling of intense anxiety – like danger is imminent
- Loss of control (or feeling like you have lost it)
- Becoming lightheaded or faint
- Feeling detached from reality
- Sweating, hot flashes, and chills
- Hyperventilation, shortness of breath
These experiences are tied to the body’s fight-or-flight response. Your body is priming itself in response to a perceived threat – even if nothing is really wrong. Over time, this can become something of a cycle itself. If you experience panic attacks often, the very idea of having one may be enough to trigger an attack itself. This results in a condition known as panic disorder. Those who endure recurring panic attacks should seek psychological help.
Finding Help for Panic Attacks
While these attacks are not physically dangerous, they can be emotionally devastating. They may also result in unintended consequences, such as reduced ability to function, new phobias, or strained relationships. Once panic attacks begin to interfere with your daily life, it is recommended that you look into treatment programs. One-on-one services like psychotherapy can provide a good foundation for recovery. Additionally, you may benefit from group therapy sessions designed for people with anxiety.
How to Stop a Panic Attack
There are several ways that you can avoid letting anxiety escalate into a full-blown panic attack.
Physical activity releases feel-good endorphins that improve your mood. Additionally, exercise can provide a cathartic outlet for your anxiety, stopping it in its tracks.
Isolation makes anxiety worse. Turning to someone you trust can help you to explore your feelings, find solutions, and benefit from the support of a loved one. You can also begin participating in support groups for those suffering from severe anxiety.
There are countless exercises you can learn that will cue your body to relax. Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, grounding techniques, and distracting actions may be the tools you need to divert a panic attack.
Taking Care of Yourself
Finally, self-care is the key to mental stability. Lack of sleep or nutrients can predispose you to have a panic attack. Additionally, substances like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol should be avoided. The addictive potential of these psychoactives, combined with their effects on the central nervous system, means that anxiety can be worsened due to their consumption.
Anxiety Treatment in Washington State
The Lakeside-Milam team understands how disorienting and concerning panic attacks can be. That’s why we have developed treatment protocols specifically for those with severe anxiety. Even if you believe panic attacks to be a fact of life, treatment can improve your symptoms. Contact our admissions team to learn more about our outpatient anxiety programming in Seattle and beyond.