What is a panic attack
The NHS in the UK describe a panic attack as
A panic attack is a feeling of sudden and intense anxiety.
Panic attacks may also have physical symptoms, including shaking, feeling disorientated, nausea, rapid, irregular heartbeats, dry mouth, breathlessness, sweating and dizziness.
What does a panic attack feel like?
A panic attack has been described as a feeling that you are about to have a heart attack. Some have described themselves as feeling as though they are about to collapse or die.
The symptoms of a panic attack are not dangerous but can be very frightening.
What to do if having a panic attack
Professor Paul Salkovskis, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University, explains the importance of notting letting your fear of a potential panic attack control you.
“Panic attacks always pass and the symptoms are not a sign of anything harmful happening,” he says. “Tell yourself that the symptoms you’re experiencing are caused by anxiety.”
He says don’t look for distractions. “Ride out the attack. Try to keep doing things. If possible, it’s important to try to remain in the situation until the anxiety has subsided.”
Having a panic attack – confront your fear
“Confront your fear. When you don’t run away you are giving yourself a chance to learn that nothing is going to happen.”
As the anxiety subsides, focus on your surroundings and continue with what you were doing before.
Reassurance helps with panic attacks
“If you’re having a short, sudden panic attack, it can be helpful to have someone with you, reassuring you that it passes and perceived symptoms are nothing to worry about,” says Professor Salkovskis.
Recommended breathing exercises for Panic Attacks
It is important not to restrict movement or daily activities and exercise. Also, try and establish what stresses you are under that could be making your symptoms worse.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth
- If possible try and count to five on each breathe in and out
- Close eyes and focus on breathing
You can start to feel better quite quickly.
Resources for symptoms of a panic attack