Treat Panic Attacks
If you've ever been so scared that you've feared for your life, you'll know what panic feels like. You'll have an overwhelming sense of dread, your heart will be thumping and you'll find it hard to catch your breath.
In some cases, this intense feeling and the associated symptoms can occur for seemingly no reason or in non-life threatening situations. When this happens, it is usually called a panic attack. This rush of psychological and physical symptoms can understandably be a frightening experience. For those with a panic disorder however, it is a common occurrence.
What is a panic attack?
A panic attack happens when your body experiences a sudden onset of intense symptoms. These symptoms are both psychological and physiological in nature. An attack usually begins with a sudden feeling of intense fear or panic. This is then generally followed by physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, nausea and sweating.
Feeling like this is understandably overwhelming and those who experience it often over-breathe (hyperventilate). Over-breathing in this way can then lead to more unwanted symptoms, making matters worse.
A typical panic attack lasts between five and 10 minutes, but they can come in waves for up to two hours. They tend to end as quickly as they begin and, even though it may not feel like it, they aren't harmful.
When you first experience a panic attack, it can be easily confused with breathing problems or a heart attack. If you are worried, don't hesitate to see your doctor. They will be able to assess your symptoms and let you know if there is any underlying medical cause. If they diagnose it as a panic attack, they should be able to offer advice regarding treatment.
You should definitely get medical advice if:
- Your panic attack continues after doing 20 minutes of slow breathing.
- You still feel unwell after your breathing returns to normal.
- You still have a rapid or irregular heartbeat or chest pains after your panic attack.
- You regularly have panic attacks, as this could be a sign that you have panic disorder.