If you google the definition of a Panic Attack, you will get this simple answer: a sudden overwhelming feeling of acute and disabling anxiety.

It sounds so simple and meniscal when you read that small explanation, but let me tell you, when you experience one, it feels as if your whole world has come crashing down on you and you battle to breath – it feels as if your chest is closing, your heart is beating out of control and like there is no air around you to breath in. It’s one of the most scariest feelings in the world.

On the 9th of July 2019, I had a major one and quiet a few of them that day. After we were involved in a major accident where our car flipped and rolled 4 full cycles, I collapsed out of the car in a major panic attack – I felt like I was having a heart attack (it’s difficult to describe in words). I was fortunate enough to have a four year led student rush to my side and assist me, as well as the paramedics and my sister-in-law when I had a few little ones in the hospital again.

But here’s the thing, panic attacks can occur unexpectedly during a calm state or in an anxious state. Although panic attacks are a defining characteristic of panic disorder, it is not uncommon for individuals to experience panic attacks in the context of other psychological disorders. An example would be someone with social anxiety disorder, may have a panic attack when having to address a large crowd.

A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that teaches a peak within minutes and includes at least 4 of the following symptoms:

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate.
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Feeling of choking
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath or lack of air (like being smothered)
  • Nausea or abdominal stress
  • Dizziness, light-headed, unsteady or fainting
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Chills or heat sensations
  • Fear of losing control (going crazy)
  • Fear of dying
  • Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)
  • Derealization (feelings and f unreality)

Anxiety is often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as a racing heart or knots in one’s stomach, what differentiates a panic attack from other anxiety symptoms is the intensity and duration of the symptoms. Panic attacks typically reach their peak level of intensity in 10 minutes or less and then begin to subside.

The following methods can be used to help stop a panic attack, or help when you feel one coming on:

  • Use Deep Breathing – if you’re able to control your breathing, you’re less likely to experience the hyperventilating that can make the other symptoms worse.
  • Recognize That You’re Actually Having a Panic Attack – recognizing the panic attack, helps remind you that this is temporary, it will pass and you’ll be OK.
  • Close Your Eyes – some panic attacks come from triggers that overwhelm you. If you’re in a fast-paced environment with a lot of stimuli, this can feed your panic attack. By closing your eyes, you can block out any extra stimuli and makes it easier for you to focus on your breathing.
  • Practises Mindfulness – it can help ground you in the reality of what’s around you. Focus on the physical sensations you are familiar with, like digging your feet into the ground, or feeling the texture of your clothing on your hands.
  • Find a Focus Object – some people find it helpful to focus on a single object, focusing all their attention on the one object in clear sight and consciously noting everything about it.
  • Use Muscle Relaxation Techniques – consciously relax one muscle at a time, starting with something as simple as your fingers in your hand, and move your way up through your body.
  • Picture Your Happy Place – everyone has one, so go there in your mind and try to focus on as much details as possible. For example if your happy place is your favorite beach destination, then imagine digging your feet in the sand, that feeling of warmth, the cool sea breeze caressing your face – focus on those sensations.
  • Engage in Light Exercise – endorphins keep the blood pumping in exactly the right way. It helps flood your body with endorphins, which can improve your mood. But remember you are stressed, so be gentle on your body, so do something light such as going for a walk, or taking a swim.
  • Keep Lavender on Hand – lavender is known for being soothing and stress-relieving. It can help your body relax. If you know you’re prone to panic attacks, keep some lavender oil on hand, and put some on your forearms when you experience a panic attack coming on. Breath in the scent. You may also drink lavender or chamomile tea.
  • Repeat a Mantra Internally – repeating a mantra internally can be relaxing and reassuring, and it can give you something to grasp onto during an attack, until you feel the attack starting to subside.

The above are some great methods to try when you feel anxious and a panic attack coming along.

I would like to acknowledge, for the awesome strategies to help relieve a panic attack. I will be trying some of these myself, the next time I feel an attack on the approach.

Have a great Monday All.


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