Anyone who has ever suffered from a panic attack understands how debilitating the experience can be. Common symptoms of panic attacks include nausea, sweating, heart palpitations, and an overall feeling of doom. Many people even mistake the symptoms of a panic attack for a heart attack.
Although recurrent episodes of panic attacks--also called anxiety--may warrant psychological support, you can manage many such episodes on your own. The providers at Family Medicine and Acute Care of Sandhills offer this guide to strategies that may help you stop panic attacks in their tracks.
Some vitamin supplements, when taken on a regular basis, may prevent anxiety. Examples include vitamin B6, magnesium, and iron, as they are precursors of serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical that helps keep you calm.
Deficiencies can lead to symptoms of panic attacks. Always ask us before taking any supplements, as we will take into account other medications that you’re taking.
More than just taking a deep breath, deep breathing is a rhythmic, intentionally slower change to your breathing pattern. Change your pattern of breathing so that your belly rises and falls, imagining that you have a balloon in your stomach.
This type of breathing is also called diaphragmatic breathing, which is slower and more calming than the fast, shallow type of breathing you experience during a panic attack.
A recommended strategy for managing panic attacks is to try to ground yourself in the present moment using each of your five senses. For example, consider the following:
Get quiet, and seek out something that you hear around you, from the sound of cars outside your window to a song on the stereo.
Experiment with textures to find something that’s soothing in your environment. Maybe it’s a plush pillow or a snuggly pet.
Take in the sights that are around you. Ground yourself in your present, and notice your surroundings. If you’re in your bedroom, try noticing the art on the walls or the print of your bedspread.
Use the power of scent to help you relax. Consider smelling something lavender or lemon, two fragrances that are notoriously calming.
Consider developing a calming ritual around taste. A square of dark chocolate or a cup of tea may be soothing tastes when you’re feeling anxious. Just avoid caffeine, as it can make anxiety worse.
Sometimes, panic attacks happen in a certain place, whether it’s a crowded store or a busy freeway. Whenever possible, try to remove yourself from the situation, even if only temporarily.
Many people find that taking a break from an anxiety-producing situation to ground themselves can leave them better able to handle it. If it happens at work, try taking a short break.
Even if you’re in an environment around other people, you can still tell yourself reassuring things in your head. Remind yourself that you are safe and that the panic you are feeling will pass.
Think of what you would say to a friend going through a similar situation, and tell yourself those things. Positive self-talk is an important part of developing coping mechanisms.
If you are feeling panic attacks on a regular basis, and they don’t respond to the above suggestions, Family Medicine and Acute Care of Sandhills can help. Panic attacks don’t have to rule your life. Contact us today, or request an appointment online.