Panic attack Treatment and Prevention
A panic attack is a rush of intense and overwhelming fear that seems to occur for no obvious reason. Panic attacks can trigger severe physical reactions such as shortness of breath, chills, heart palpitations (rapid heartbeat), dizziness, feeling faint, sweating, shaking and/or chest pain. Some people feel a sense of impending doom or death.
What types of things may increase your risk of panic attacks?
- family history of panic disorder
- A tremendous amount of stress
- A traumatic event such as an accident or death of a loved one
People who are prone to anxiety or panic attacks share some common traits:
- Busy lifestyles—Trying to juggle many different tasks can be extremely stressful and lead to anxiety or fear of missing or forgetting something. You can often lower the risk of a panic attack by being able to say “no” to yet another demand on your time. Take the extra time you have to do something you enjoy, that allows you to relax. You may even want to consider meditation or other relaxation strategies, such as deep breathing exercises.
- Self-judgment—Most people who experience panic view themselves more critically than they do others. They also feel a need to meet the expectations of others and have an inordinate fear that they will fail. The world will be hard enough on you. Go easy on yourself.
- Use of stimulants, such as nicotine or caffeine. Stimulants can be found in many foods and beverages, including chocolate and soft drinks. Reducing your intake of stimulants can have an impact on your inclination to experience anxiety.
An anxiety attack can last anywhere between a few seconds to 30 minutes (or more). Recurring panic or anxiety attacks are commonly triggered by a specific event or situation, especially if that event previously caused a panic attack.
Panic Attack Treatment and Prevention | What to Do When You Feel a Panic Attack Coming On
There are steps that you can take to reduce the risk of a panic attack, as well as a variety of ways to treat and minimize a panc attack, once one starts.
Relaxation Exercises and Stress management
- Relaxation using breathing exercises
- Relaxation of your body and muscles
- Relaxation through yoga and/or meditation
- Relaxation using guided imagery
Once you have experienced a panic attack, you can usually tell when one is going to occur. As soon as you feel you may have a panic attack, immediately try some conscious relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing. Find a quiet place with little or no visual or other distractions and breathe as deeply and slowly as you can. If you have practiced meditation, or have done guided imagery as a means of relaxing, use these tools to reduce your level of anxiety.
If you suffer from regular panic attacks and have been unable to stop or manage them on your own, it may help to call a mental health professional. Trained and licnesed therapists and psychiatrists can offer a number of treatments, from counseling to prescription medications. Therapeutic treatment of panic disorders can involve psychotherapy, where your therapist works with you to try to manage and reduce your panic attacks. Cognitive-behavioral therapy CBT, can be a very effective and usually quick way (short term therapy) to treat panic disorder.
Psychiatrists sometimes prescribe medications, such as Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan, are designed to provide immediate relief from anxiety, but are not intended for long-term use. Others, including Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, are antidepressants that don’t offer immediate relief, but can curtail the frequency and severity of anxiety or panic attacks.
Maplewood Counseling in Essex County NJ, offers a wide range of services for people experiencing anxiety or panic attacks. We are committed to providing a safe place where you can get the help you need. Call our office at 973-902-8700 or contact us to schedule a confidential appointment.
Panic Attack Treatment and Prevention