Panic attacks can be experienced by people between 14 – 64, however the most commonly affected age group is 20 – 24 year olds. (McLean et al., 2011)
These periods of intense sensations come out of the blue, seemingly from nowhere and make you feel overwhelmed. They may be triggered by:
- past events
- too much stress
- major life adjustments
- visual, auditory and olfactory (smell) cues
- nutritional and environmental factors
- genetic susceptibility
This short article presents some ideas that can help you can overcome the scary and uncomfortable feelings associated with panic attacks.
Remember the saying, “avoidance is anxiety’s best friend”.
This is true, because, the more you avoid, the more anxious you’re going to feel. Avoiding situations or bodily sensations associated with a panic attack may seem helpful in the short-term because it helps to immediately reduce feelings and symptoms of anxiety.
But in the long-term, it is not helpful. Why?
Because our brain learns that those physical sensations must really be a true indicator of something to really be afraid of.
Three Ways to Manage Panic Attacks
When you next experience a panic attack, try your best not to avoid or push away feelings of panic. Instead, try these three things:
- Breathe slowly into the experience. Breathe in for the count of 6 or 7. Hold your breath for 4 or 5 seconds then breathe out over 8 or 9 seconds. (The key here, is not the number of seconds, but to breathe out more slowly than breathing in and to slow your breath altogether.)
- Practice accepting your feelings. For example, you can repeat to yourself: “Even though I am feeling anxious/clammy dizzy/trembling, I accept myself and all these feelings and I know they will pass.”
- Distract your attention by looking for 5 things around you can see, hear and touch
Rewire Your Brain
According to research by Professor Stefan Hoffman, et al., by approaching the sensations and situations that make you anxious, slowly, and by trying new techniques, you can rewire your brain to learn that these feelings are temporary and not to be feared. Eventually this can help reduce panic attack symptoms in the future or at least make them much more manageable in the moment.
In addition, smart nutrients, herbs, or medications can sometimes provide resources for the brain to help it make changes. Also, CBT therapy or “Tapping” can be supportive to help you let go of old programs or beliefs and make emotional adjustments. Massage and acupuncture can play a role too, in helping you relax, unwind and reset the panic attack button.
However, an attitude of “I can do this!” will give you confidence to deal with the things that make you anxious and trigger a panic attack.
McLean, C. P., Asnaani, A., Litz, B. T., & Hofmann, S. G. (2011). Gender differences in anxiety disorders: Prevalence, course of illness, comorbidity, and burden of illness. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 45, 1027-1035
Aldao, A , Nolen-Hoeksema, S , Schweizer, S. (2010). Emotion-regulation strategies across psychopathology: a meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 217–237. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2009.11.004 Google Scholar
Nick Ortner, The Tapping Solution. A Revolutionary System for Stress Free Living
We’re here to help
For personal help in relation to smart nutrients, herbal medicine, counselling, environmental factors and massage, you can make an appointment with senior health professional at Helping Touch, Michelle Rudge.
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