Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your breathing becomes tight, you feel yourself on the verge of tears, and your heart rate starts to rapidly increase? If the answer is yes, then it’s very likely that you have experienced a typical panic attack. The first stage in being able to control these attacks and get through them with as little negative impact as possible is to be able to recognize that you are in fact having one. You can then try any number of tips and tricks for taking control of your feelings in the moment. With that in mind, here are some of the best and most widely suggested ways for dealing with panic attacks.
Firstly, one of the best things that you can do is educate yourself about panic attacks. Whilst most people don’t have them, it is important for people to generally know something about them because it helps to normalize them and take the scariness of them away for the individuals who suffer from them. Did you know that approximately 10 million people in the United States alone will have at least one panic attack per year? They are also more common in women than they are in men.
Know Your Triggers
Panic attacks can be completely spontaneous, but more commonly they are started by one or more triggers for each individual. If you have started to experience light to modern to heavy symptoms of panic attacks, it can be beneficial to think hard about where you were and what you were doing when they started. It can start clarifying the context if you can identify a common thread that you can start treating as triggers, and therefore avoid in the future.
For a lot of people this can be things like large crowds, small spaces, loud noises etc., but it isn’t always as simple as those, sometimes it is a subconscious fear. The best thing to do is keep a panic or anxiety ‘journal’ where you can write down your feelings at any given moment, where you are and what you are doing. The more detailed you can make it, the more successfully you will be able to pull out patterns.
Familiarize Yourself With The Feelings
When a panic attack is in full flow, it will 100% feel like you need to go to the hospital for urgent treatment, but in the overwhelming majority of cases this isn’t going to be needed. The first few panic attacks that you have will be too scary to pull anything positive or productive from, but the thing to keep in mind is that on average, the worst of an attack is always over within 10 minutes or less. It might sound odd, but the more you get to know the pattern of your own panic attacks, the less scared and helpless you will feel in the midst of them.
Be kind to yourself in the aftermath of a panic attack and do the things that feel right for you. If you feel like you need to take a Xanax to get rid of those left over panic attack remnants, then you have every right to do so. If you want to enlist the help of a professional for something more dedicated and defined, then there is no shame or harm in seeking anti-anxiety medication that might be able to dull the power and frequency of your attacks. The stigma that once existed around any type of mental health medication is no longer present in society, so don’t shy away from seeking professional help or therapy.
Put Yourself First
Ultimately, you have to make the decision to be somewhat selfish in the sense of putting yourself first and not submitting to situations that you know might be triggering for you. Peer pressure is a very real thing in both childhood and adulthood, and you should never feel obligated to participate in an event or activity that makes you feel uncomfortable, no matter how ‘normal’ other people might deem it to be. Put yourself first at all times in order to preserve your mental health.
The best way to deal with panic attacks is to try the various ways listed above until you find a way that works for you. It will take some trial and error.