Help with panic attacks
WHAT IS A PANIC ATTACK?
Panic attacks are sudden and very intense periods of fear, stress and anxiety. They may last anything from minutes to hours and there may be no obvious reason for them to happen.
HOW COMMON ARE PANIC ATTACKS?
- Around a tenth of us will have at least one panic attack, often triggered by a stressful event.
- In the UK, approximately one person in fifty has panic disorder which means they go on to have regular panic attacks. Panic disorder often develops when you are in your twenties, and is twice as common in women as it is in men.
- 40-70% of those who have daytime panic attacks also experience panic episodes that begin while they are sleeping, called nocturnal panic attacks.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PANIC ATTACKS?
The physical symptoms often include nausea, sweating, trembling, pins and needles increased breathing rate and fast or irregular heartbeat. These often come with negative thoughts such as
- Thinking that you may lose control and/or go “mad”
- Thinking that you might die or are dying
- Thinking that you may have a heart attack/be sick/faint/have a brain tumour
- Feeling that people are looking at you and observing your anxiety
- Feeling as though things are speeding up/slowing down
- Feeling detached from your environment and the people in it
- Feeling like wanting to run away/escape from the situation
- Feeling on edge and alert to everything around you
Panic attacks can affect your confidence, self-esteem, behaviour and emotions.
HOW CAN I STOP MY PANIC ATTACKS?
- Remember that some physical conditions needing medical attention (including thyroid imbalance, heart or lung problems, ear disturbance and epilepsy) can cause similar symptoms to panic attacks, so these should be ruled out first by your GP.
- Understand that although panic attacks are unpleasant, you are perfectly safe when they happen. Keep challenging any negative thinking - remind yourself you are not dying or going mad, the thoughts in your head are from your panic, and not from you.
- Reducing your stress levels generally might help to reduce the number of panic attacks you have.
- Distraction techniques often work well to reduce or stop panic attacks, especially those that encourage you to use your thinking for language, number or memory tasks. Recite poetry, sing nursery rhymes, count bricks in a wall, or count to a thousand in fours. (You can do this inside your head if you are in too public a place to do it aloud!)
- Exercise such as jogging on the spot can help as it naturally uses up the physical energy that panic hormones create.
- Be AWARE;
Accept the panic is happening but will pass
Watch from the outside (imagine the panic is happening to someone else)
Repeat these steps
Expect the best (don’t let the negative thoughts take over)
If these techniques don’t get you to where you want to be, hypnotherapy can often help.
If you'd like help please get in touch.