How to recognize a panic attack?


How to recognize a panic attack?

Everything was just fine and suddenly it’s there: the panic attack. Suddenly your heart is beating much faster, you start sweating, you can hardly breathe and all you have in your head is panic. Fear seems to take over and everything is blocked. When you experience a panic attack for the first time, it can be quite frightening, because often you don’t realize what is actually happening. Also, it does not necessarily need a clear trigger for the attack.

How to recognize a panic attack and how to get rid of it:

The following symptoms occur frequently (and usually very quickly) with a panic attack:
You notice that your heart is suddenly beating much faster
You feel weak, dizzy, or light-headed
You suddenly feel very cold or very hot
You start sweating or shaking
you get sick
You feel pain in your chest or stomach
You have trouble breathing
You feel shaky on your feet
You experience a sense of dissociation, meaning you feel temporarily disconnected from your mind, body, or environment

How long does a panic attack last and what triggers it?
People who experience a panic attack often fear losing control, passing out, having a heart attack, or even dying. Anyone who has ever had an attack often lives with the fear that it could happen again. If this fear is very strong, it is called agoraphobia. In some cases, the fear of a panic attack can trigger it in the first place.

In general, the triggers for panic attacks can be very different, some people come to know which triggers attacks can provoke in them (e.g. just before they have to give a presentation, etc.).

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A panic attack lasts between five and 20 minutes on average and occurs very quickly.

What to do when you have a panic attack
Panic attacks can be really scary, but there are things you can do to help yourself. It may be useful to print out or write down these tips and keep them in a visible/accessible place.

It can help if you…

focus on your breathing/ try to inhale and exhale slowly while counting to ten.
Bringing the focus to your senses, such as sucking on a mint candy, smelling an essential oil, or stroking a soft blanket.
grounding/rooting yourself by concentrating on keeping your feet firmly planted on the ground.
try to relax your muscles. Concentrate on individual body parts such as the neck, shoulders, jaw, etc. and consciously let them relax.
After a panic attack, it’s important to rest and switch off a bit. Lie down for a while and take a few sips. It can also be good to talk to someone you trust to process what you have experienced. Should a panic break out again at some point, it can be helpful if a person you trust already knows how attacks express themselves and what you need during this time.

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