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5 Tips to Stop Panic Attacks

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Those who have never experienced a panic attack might find it difficult to understand how terrifying experience it is. A full-blown panic attack include the following symptoms:
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Choking feeling
  • Feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Fear of dying, losing control, or going crazy
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint
  • Heart palpitations or a racing heart
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Nausea or upset stomach

It's important to know that a panic attack in itself is not dangerous. However, to have anxiety over time can increase the risk of: Heart disease, cancer, stomach disorders, obesity, shrinkage of a certain region of your brain, decreased ability to concentrate, memory problems, irritability, damages interpersonal relationships, respiratory problems, weakening your immune system.


How to stop having panic attacks


Therefore, if you're experiencing a panic attack, then you probably want to stop having them. Here are five tips on how to stop having panic attacks:

Tip #1: Try not to avoid places or situations

Some people with panic attacks avoid places and situations because they think it might trigger a panic attack. This behavior can induce another anxiety disorder called agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is characterized by fear for situations where the sufferer perceives an environment as uncomfortable or dangerous. People with agoraphobia often restrict themselves to "safe zones". This makes them housebound, and sometimes restricted to a particular room in their house.


People with agoraphobia often restrict themselves to safe zones


Tip #2: Recognize overbreathing

It's important to recognize when and how you overbreathe. Try to catch yourself when you start to breathe more rapidly. You can ask yourself the following questions: Do I breathe too rapidly? Do I breathe too deeply? Do I yawn more than others (excessive yawning may be a sign of hyperventilation)?

Tip #3: Don't overreact

It's important not to overreact to your own hyperventilation. When you feel you start to overbreathe, remind yourself that it's not dangerous, even though it might feel uncomfortable and unpleasant. If you feel that you start to hyperventilate, you can do the slow-breathing technique described below, which will stop symptoms over hyperventilation within a minute or two.


When you feel the symptoms of hyperventilation, try slow-breathing technique


Tip #4: The Slow-Breathing Technique

When you feel the symptoms of hyperventilation, try to do the following exercise:

1. Stop what you are doing and start focusing on your breathing

2. Start breathing in and out through your nose. Do it slowly, in a 6 second cycle. Breath in for three seconds and out for three seconds. While you are doing the 6 second breathing cycle repeat the word "relax" to yourself every time you breathe out. It's important to breathe using your diaphragm, not your chest.

3. Continue with the slow-breathing exercise until the symptoms of hyperventilation have gone.

Tip #5: Breathe into a paper bag


Breathe into a paper bag when you feel you start to overbreathe


Another technique is to breath into a paper bag. When you feel you start to overbreathe, try to breathe into a paper bag. Overbreathing will actually lower the carbon dioxide in your blood and that makes you feel worse. Breathing into a paper bag builds up the carbon dioxide in your blood, so you should immediately start feeling better.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MARK MADSEN
My name is Mark Madsen and I'm a clinical psychologist in training. I have a special interest for anxiety and depression, and my dayjob is as a clinical therapist. quickfixanxiety.com

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