Experiencing Panic Attacks – What To Do?

Everyone experiences panic or distress every now and then. Some people are more distressed to speak in public. Some people are afraid of the dark. Some people experience panic attacks before job interviews. We all have specific reasons which can trigger the panic within us. It may be hard to understand or comprehend by ourselves so seeking out a therapist can be a good first move.

Facts About Panic Attacks 

  • Panic attacks are real and should be taken seriously. Individuals who are experiencing panic attacks are having a turmoil of emotions which are very awful and dreadful. They usually don’t know how to regulate their emotions since the distress is almost always too intense and immediate that they would end up in an emergency room.

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  • Panic attacks are very traumatizing. People who already experienced panic attacks will be constantly anxious from anticipating when the next panic attack would be. “Generally, panic attacks have more severe physical symptoms, whereas anxiety attacks are more of a “slow burn,” says Craig Sawchuk, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 5% of the total American adult population experience panic attacks.That percentage is over four million Americans. It is very alarming to have quite a large group, especially when many researchers believe that sometimes proper diagnosis is not given to those who experience panic attacks.

Panic Attacks Versus Normal Fears

Misconception between panic attacks and normal fears are usually unavoidable. Hence, this article wants to explain to you the difference between panic attacks and normal fears. A fear is a normal nervous response that our body uses whenever we sense danger and there is a need to prepare for fight-or-flight reaction. This primal reaction is designed by the nervous system to avoid certain dangers. “And 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

On the other hand, a panic attack is a sudden wave of intense emotions, specifically fear and anxiety. This is usually a one-time occurrence but many people have recurring episodes of panic attacks. The heartbeat rises dramatically and the person is immobilized due to the strange sudden flow of intense emotions.

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So what should you do when someone is experiencing a panic attack? 

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind if you encountered someone having a panic attack:

  • Ask the person to focus on the breathing. This technique diverts the individual’s attention from the fear and anxiety to only the breathing.
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga. Whenever the person is triggered and on the verge of a panic attack, try to meditate with the individual to focus the trigger to other aspects other than fear.
  • Remember that prevention is better than cure. Exercising daily can help prevent panic attacks because it is considered a natural stress reliever.

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These simple tricks can come in handy whenever you encounter someone experiencing a panic attack. Don’t forget to use them! Remember Dina Cagliostro, PhD used say “if you’ve been experiencing panic attacks or think you may have panic disorder, we encourage you to seek diagnosis and treatment from your doctor and a mental health professional.”

James Bramblett