Panic or anxiety attacks are very common for people who deal with anxiety; they are also the most dreaded thing associated with anxiety. Whether you are sitting in a bus trembling and being unable to breathe or laying on your bed at end sweating profusely, a panic attack for everyone is scary. Hence, as much as anxiety attack help is essential, so is the awareness about it in order to control it and find ways to deal with it.
What do you feel during a panic attack? And why?
Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are really two distinct experiences, says Amanda Spray, Ph.D., Clinic Director of the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Center and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health in New York City. Therefore, it is hard to provide a simplistic answer to how someone might feel during a panic attack. The experience for everyone might be different and closely linked to their own personal experiences in life. Some who are unaware of this concept may even consider their panic attack as a heart attack if they are also having chest pains during this time. Others may experience feelings of detachment during a panic attack; even their own room might feel like an alien space to them. In addition to this, most common signs of a panic attack are pounding of the heart, sweating, breathing problems and trembling.
Different things, places or even people can attack as triggers for someone. Perhaps someone has undergone a tragic accident and revisiting the place of the accident may bring back bad memories. “When it creates chronically anxious thoughts, a depressed attitude, or feelings of being immobilized,” Carla Manly, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Sonoma County explains. In this case, the place might attack as a trigger for a panic attack and this little visit to the place can turn into an anxious experience. Sometimes if a person has had a panic attack in one place, he might start associating that place with those emotions. He or she might avoid going to back there, feeling that they might experience the same horrible panic attack again.
How to alleviate sudden anxiety attacks?
“If you personally suffer from anxiety, you’re at an even greater risk of dealing with panic attacks.” Licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D. explains. However, there are several ways one can help himself or herself in such a situation. A few tips are mentioned below to help out.
- Breathe deep
Most people start hyperventilating during a panic attack, which makes it even worse than it already is. The key is to regain control over your breathing by controlling it. Try taking a deep breath through your mouth, slowly filling your body with all the air. Count till four and breathe out in a similar relaxed manner.
- Close your eyes
Your panic attack might be triggered by some external stimuli present in your surroundings. By closing your eyes, you might block it out. Focus on your breathing instead or your other senses.
- Be aware of the situation
Panic attacks are scarier when one does not know that it is a panic attack. People who lack awareness about anxiety may fail to detect why their body and mind is reacting the way it is during the attack. The key is to educate yourself and know more about the signs of a panic attack. Most of the fear is gone when you are able to understand your condition. You must know that a panic attack lasts for a little duration; perhaps knowing this allows one to relax.
- Focus on something
Another alternative to closing your eyes is to select an object to focus on. It can be anything from a little book to the clock in your room. Look at it carefully, try to describe the color, texture, shape and other features of the object to yourself. Notice the little scratches on the side or any other minute details in the object. It will all help you in diverting yourself from feeling anxious. Another great way to beat an anxiety attack is to reconnect with all your senses. Try to listen to something, touch something, smell something and see something carefully. By using all your senses, you are reminding yourself that you and everything around you is real, and in your control now.