PANIC ATTACKS AND PANIC DISORDER

Panic – that feeling you get as your game crashes before you’ve saved. A panic attack is a severe feeling of anxiety which can happen suddenly and without warning, and for no apparent reason.  At least 1 in 10 people have had a panic attack – so you are not alone!

 

SYMPTOMS CAN INCLUDE

  • A ‘thumping heart’ (palpitations).
  •  Sweating and trembling.
  • Dry mouth.
  •  Hot flushes or chills.
  •  Feeling short of breath, sometimes with choking sensations.
  • Chest pains.
  • Feeling sick (nauseated), dizzy, or faint.
  • Fear of dying or going crazy.
  • Numbness or pins and needles.
  • Feelings of unreality, or being detached from yourself.

Imagine how Link feels when he’s facing Ganon – this ‘fight or flight’ feeling is exactly what you experience in a panic attack. You also tend to over-breathe (hyperventilate), which can make the symptoms you are experiencing worse.

A panic attack usually lasts 5-10 minutes; however, sometimes panic attacks come in waves for up to two hours – this may be particularly frightening but remember that panic attacks are not life threatening.

 

PANIC DISORDER

You may experience repeated panic attacks, which is called a panic disorder.

In panic disorder, there may be an initial event that triggers a panic attack, but then the attacks after that can occur randomly. This may cause additional anxiety about having further attacks.

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH A PANIC ATTACK

The first thing to do is focus on your breathing, taking deep, slow breaths. Concentrating on taking slow breaths can distract your mind and make you feel more relaxed. Learning meditation techniques, particularly around breathing, can also help.

Some people find that tummy (abdominal) breathing can be helpful. Try putting one hand on your chest and the other on your tummy. You should aim to breathe deeply by moving your tummy, with your chest moving very little. This can help relax your mind and body.

Treatment can help if you have repeated attacks. The main aim of treatment is to reduce the number and severity of panic attacks. Treatment may include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and medications.