I panic when I find that my heart is racing even when there is no obvious reason.
I frequently feel panicky with no warning which can spiral out of control.
When I visit others, I often want to go home, even thought things seem fine.
Do any of the above statements ring true for you?
Is it new situations that can make us feel like this? A new and exciting job opportunity, off to university or even just a new term at school, moving up a year, a new teacher. Or it could be the feeling of being overwhelmed just by the demands of life. All these things can send us into a panic which means that we can dread doing things that might challenge us in this way.
Any of these situations, and many others can result in a panic attack.
But what is a panic attack?
A panic attack occurs when your body experiences a rush of intense psychological and physical symptoms. We can feel a crushing sense of fear, apprehension and anxiety. As well as these feelings, there can be physical symptoms such as feeling sick, sweating trembling and dizziness.
All of which can leave us feeling really overwhelmed and scared. And then we start to wonder when this will happen again, so we stop doing things to try to avoid the next panic attack.
I’ve had clients explain their anxiety as though they feel that they might be having a heart attack or that the heart will be damaged by the feelings. This then increases the panic and anxiety. Some report symptoms such as a racing heart, an upset stomach and sweating palms and terrible feelings of unreality or lack of control which is very frightening.
This can lead to getting in a panic about the next attack. Which in turn stops us living our lives to the full.
It can sometimes seem like there is no reason for the attack. But often there is an underlying reason, something that was experienced recently or a little while ago which makes the brain think that we need protection.
The main aim of the brain is to protect us. If messages come up to the brain that something is wrong, the fight, flight or freeze response will be activated. This means that the body is getting flooded with hormones that can help us to run, fight or hide. This is all great where there is a real danger, but all too often the danger is not real. There is nothing that we can run from or fight. So all those hormones are in the body but not being used, which makes us feel sick, sweaty, heart racing or whatever else we may feel.. Those feelings we know, sick feeling in the tummy, racing heart, dry mouth and feelings of lack of control. I’ve written about this before and here is another article that might be worth a read.
What can help to reduce the panic?
There is help out there, and one of the best things to do when experiencing this panic is to concentrate on your breathing. When we go into panic mode, we tend to hyperventilate, our breathing is short, shallow and high up in our chests. If we can slow the breathing down and take the breath right down into the tummy, we can help those feelings of panic. When we slow the breathing down, messages go up to the brain to say ‘everything is fine’. This triggers some more helpful hormones, like serotonin and cortisol which help to restore the body’s balance. This is one quick way to bring thing back to normal. I appreciate that it’s not easy but with practice it can make a huge difference.
There are lots of other things that can help with panic attacks and a lot of the work that I do is helping my clients get to grips with this type of experience.
If you would like to know more, I’m always happy to have a chat.
Change is possible today