What Are Panic Attacks?
Panic attacks can happen as a response to fear, anxiety CLICK HERE or to stressful situations. Because you are scared of something your body reacts by releasing a lot of a hormone called adrenaline, causing your chest to feel tight and your heart to race, and can take from between 10 and 30 minutes to pass.
Panic attacks are really common, many people suffer from them. They can be scary but they will not cause any physical harm. You may be having a panic attack if you are feeling
- faint, dizzy or sick
- hot and sweaty
- weak and shaky in your legs
- like you cant breathe (like you are choking)
- your vision going blurry
- like you are disconnecting from your surroundings
If you have regular and recurring panic attacks, often for no apparent reason, you may have some form of panic disorder. If this is happening to you it’s a good idea to go and see a doctor.
Preparing for a Panic Attack
If you struggle with panic attacks here are some things you can do to help prepare for them in advance.
- Using breathing apps like Calm can help deescalate panic attacks. The apps guide you through breathing exercises and it feels like someone is with you
- Placing a weighted blanket, or something comfortable around your shoulders feels like a tight hug and can help ground you and bring you back to reality
- Using coping statements such as ” I have got through this before and I will get through this again” “My anxiety will not hurt me” “I am happy healthy and have many people who love me” can be a helpful calming technique to replace negative thoughts
Help When Having a Panic Attack
The following tips can help you if you are suffering from panic attacks:
- Distract yourself, this could be from holding a comforting object which is near you, or something you can hold and feel.
- 5,4,3,2,1 technique – look around the room and notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 things you can taste
- Let your feelings out, crying can often help release a build up of emotions and tension and can help make you feel better, like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders
- Do something physical like jumping up and down or jogging on the spot whilst keeping focused on your breathing
It’s important after you have experienced a panic attack to look after yourself. Give yourself some time afterwards to sit somewhere quietly before going back into the world. You may decide it is helpful to talk to someone about what has happened and let you feelings out or maybe you would like to write your thoughts down or keep a mood journal
If the frequency of the panic attacks do not settle down, go and speak to your doctor. If necessary a doctor can refer you on to a service that will work with you to control these episodes.
Reasons For Panic Attacks
For lots of people, panic attacks can appear to start for no reason or without any warning signs. This reasons for having panic attacks aren’t always clear. Panic attacks can happen due to heightened anxiety or stress. This could be due a specific situations like an exam, family problems or a bereavement. It can also happen due to memories of bad experiences. Anyone can have a panic attack, even people without any kind of anxiety disorder. In some cases people have suffered from panic attacks due to medical conditions.
Getting Help For Panic Attacks
There are lots of places where you can get more information and support around panic attacks.
You can ADD A QUESTION on the Cool2talk site
The following web pages may also be helpful:
You can also call Childline on 0800 1111 at any time if you are feeling worried, anxious or scared.