Almost everyone feels a bit nervous and frantic at times when confronted with a stressful or dangerous situation. But a panic attack is a real condition that triggers intense physical reactions and may not even have a logical cause. This article explores what panic attacks are and what you can do to help yourself or someone else who is experiencing one.
Causes of Panic Attacks
The interesting (and scary) thing about panic attacks is that sometimes there’s a specific reason why they occur and sometimes they seem totally random. It isn’t definitively clear what causes panic attacks in many people, although stress, genetics, and brain functionality all play a role. Some people’s personalities are simply more prone to stress and negativity, which may also make them more prone to sudden panic.
People who have a family history of panic attacks may be prone to them, as well as people who have a history of physical abuse or who have experienced a traumatic event. Smoking cigarettes and excessive caffeine consumption are also risk factors for panic attacks.
Symptoms of Panic Attacks
A panic attack usually comes on very suddenly when a person isn’t expecting it. This could be very dangerous if it occurs while driving or very embarrassing if it occurs during a business presentation, for example. Symptoms of a panic attack are rapid heart rate, sweating, shaking, tightness in the throat, and nausea. Someone having a panic attack may also feel dizzy, get a headache, feel chills, and experience a total loss of control.
If you are prone to panic attacks, you might develop phobias about certain social situations and have trouble staying focused at work or school. People with severe and frequent panic attacks often also struggle with addiction, depression, ands other anxiety disorders.
Treating Panic Attacks Naturally
Self-diagnosing a panic attack can be dangerous because those symptoms could be due to a serious medical condition, such as a heart problem or thyroid dysfunction. To diagnose a panic attack disorder, a doctor may examine you physically, take blood tests, do heart tests, and conduct a psychological evaluation.
Many people benefit from psychotherapy to treat their panic attacks because talking out the feelings of panic with a trained professional may reveal underlying issues that are causing the fear and physical symptoms that result. Doctors may recommend prescription medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or benzodiazepines to sedate the nervous system to treat serious panic attack disorders. However, there are often milder and more natural approaches that a person can try before resorting to chemically altering the brain.
Breathing exercises and meditation have been very effective in some patients for calming the mind when the feelings of panic begin and also as part of a regular practice for prevention. Visualization and progressive muscle relaxation that involves relaxing parts of the body one-by-one are coping strategies that can be used to get through a panic attack. Naturopath health provides may recommend certain natural supplements to ease panic attack disorders, such as kava kava, valerian, and St. John’s wort.
How to Prevent Panic Attacks
If you are prone to panic attacks, steer clear of alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes since these things are known to be panic attack triggers. It is helpful to get enough sleep at night to keep the brain functioning well and be more resilient against irrational fears and panic. It may also help to write in a journal each day about your feelings or express your feelings by creating art so they aren’t bottled up inside. While some people joke about panic attacks, it’s important to not mock anyone who is experiencing them but rather help them seek the treatment they need to feel calm and well-balanced.