Coping with Panic Attacks

November 12, 2021

Panic attacks are frightening to experience, especially when you are alone. But they are completely normal and natural reactions your body has when your mind believes it's in danger, however misguided that belief is.

They can cause nausea, shortness of breath, chest pains, feelings of disconnection, impending doom or numbness and trigger thoughts such as;

I'm going to die

I'm not breathing properly

I'm going to have a heart attack

Everyone thinks I'm crazy

Here are some things to remember when you're experiencing a panic attack;

It will pass

During a panic attack your sympathetic nervous system floods your body with chemicals that prepare you to either fight or flight, which can feel terrifying. But after around 20-30 minutes the parasympathetic nervous system will kick in to calm your body back down because it cannot physically sustain this response for long periods of time.

This means that no matter how scary and everlasting it seems these feelings will pass and you will get through it.

Don't be hard on yourself

The thoughts you have and the things you do when experiencing a panic attack do not make you crazy or stupid. Once your survival instincts kick in and override your rational mind, thinking becomes extremely difficult. Oxygen is diverted away from your brain to your vital organs, which reduces your control over your thoughts and actions. It's unfair to judge or define yourself based on what happens in those moments.

You are breathing

The hyperventilating and shortness of breath panic attacks cause can make you think that you're not breathing when you are. But breathing is automatic and you're doing it right now. If you can say a simple word out loud that means you're breathing enough.

If talking is a struggle try to focus on lengthening your exhales. This will help release the tension from your body and convince your mind that you are calm and no threat is present. Breathe in for 4 seconds and out for 5.

If these things aren't helpful, that's okay too. You don't have to do, think or say anything for a panic attack to pass. It will always pass on its own, no matter what you do.

Post by a member of the Feelmo team.

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