Panic attack: what it is and how to survive
The first panic attack, as a rule, becomes a complete surprise for a person. So you walk along the street and feel as usual. But suddenly something happens that unsettle you. The subway train suddenly stopped in the tunnel. The car swept a meter away from you. A passerby seemed very suspicious to you ...
The causes of a panic attack can be very different, and the symptoms are usually similar in almost all cases. Palpitations, cold sweat, heaviness in the legs, weakness, sharp headache, shortness of breath, nausea and fainting. The forces are rapidly leaving you, and it seems that life itself is leaving with them. It is estimated that more than eight million women in Russia are subject to unjustified panic attacks. Moreover, these attacks begin to seem unreasonable to the victims themselves - just a few minutes after what happened. After analyzing the situation and their own behavior, many agree that they really reacted too violently, and yet the problem was not worth a damn.
It is believed that women are more prone to panic attacks than men. Doctors agree that usually these attacks are caused by stress and overwork and most often occur already in a fairly mature age.
Panic attacks can occur for quite objective reasons.
For example, having experienced a really dangerous situation related to public transport or a department store, a person begins to fear that this may happen again. In this case, it will be quite difficult to cope with attacks on your own and professional help is highly recommended. However, most often panic attacks occur for no apparent reason. For example, you ride in a crowded subway car at rush hour. You are tired, hungry, nervous, and stuffy in the carriage. You rode the subway dozens of times, but now it begins to seem to you that there is not enough air and you are suffocating. All the unpleasant physical symptoms immediately appear, and the next time you find yourself in the subway, you are afraid that something similar will happen to you. And many come to the conclusion: “I have a weak heart!” or "It's all about high blood pressure!" - and start taking medications that are completely useless. Meanwhile, causeless panic attacks can be dealt with naturally, without potent medications.
Take care of yourself
Most often, the underlying cause of panic attacks is stress, chronic fatigue, worries about objective events, and dissatisfaction with how life develops. All this can exhaust even on a physical level. To get rid of unpleasant sensations, you must first take care of yourself, try to maintain the body at a physical level.
- Make sure to eat regularly and properly. In your diet should be vegetables and fruits, lean meat, fish, eggs.
- To maintain the body we need at least 7-8 hours of sleep per day. Of course, in an emergency, a person can sleep less, the main thing is that lack of sleep does not become a habitual phenomenon in your life.
- Get moving! Run and swim in the summer, ski in the winter. As often as possible, walk in the fresh air and climb the stairs on foot, abandoning the elevator.
If one day you feel bad in the middle of the street or in transport, it is understandable that you are afraid of repeating the same situation. But do not let your fear grow to universal dimensions, and this is what will happen if your brain is exclusively busy chewing on an unpleasant event. Try to get bad memories out of your head and focus on the positive.
- “Do not let your soul be lazy” - this should be your motto. Try to organize additional classes for yourself - those that give you pleasure.
- Thoroughly and extremely accurately list on paper everything you are afraid of. Now think: how likely is this to happen?
- If you think that this probability is high, make sure that you always have the necessary medicines, contact numbers, and an accurate plan of action in case of emergency.
You can’t protect yourself from unrest throughout your life, and if something extraordinary happens, a person often connects his feelings not with an event, but with a place where everything happened. Your task is to convince yourself that this place is safe in itself.
- If you start to worry, gather your will into a fist and make yourself mentally switch to the pleasant.
- Remember that the problem causing the panic exists in your imagination and is not related to the metro, bus, elevator or other place where you are.
- If the attack does start and the usual symptoms appear, do not panic and do not run away. Staying in a crowded subway car, you will prove to yourself that it is fearless, and, possibly, get rid of subsequent attacks.
Take a look at the situation from the side
Your task is to distance yourself from everything that is happening as much as possible, and here special psychological techniques can be very useful to you.
- Put a thin elastic band on your wrist. When you feel that the first symptoms of a panic attack are approaching, pull the elastic and release it so that it clicks on the skin. Even such an easy distracting maneuver brings many to their senses.
- Concentrate your attention on something harmless: count people passing by, remember the birthdays of relatives. Anything - just not to think about what worries the imagination.
Learn to relax
Relaxation techniques are the best way to deal with panic attacks and any other stressful situation. The main condition for success is to devote several minutes to relaxation every day, even if you are completely calm and in a good mood. Only if you bring the ability to relax to automatism can you apply your skills during a panic attack.
Active relaxation involves two steps. On the first you strain your whole body, on the second you try to relax every muscle. Starting from the face, move your attention throughout the body - neck, shoulders, arms, back, stomach, hips, legs, consciously relaxing each area. At the very beginning, relaxing your whole body can take you about half an hour, and when you learn to concentrate, time will be reduced by about half. This technique also helps with insomnia.
Train your breath
Many patients complain that during a panic attack they lack oxygen and because of this they begin to suffocate. In fact, everything happens exactly the opposite: a person takes deep breaths and too much oxygen enters the body, and carbon dioxide, on the contrary, is consumed in excess. And this oversaturation with oxygen only exacerbates mental stress.
- If you think you are suffocating, try breathing in a paper bag. In this way, you will breathe less oxygen and thus avoid its oversaturation. And at the same time “save” the cost of carbon dioxide in the body.
- Inhale very slowly and deeply and hold your breath for as long as possible. If you can hold out for 10-15 seconds and repeat this simple exercise several times, you will be able to learn to restore calm, measured breathing and even slightly slow down the heartbeat. Gradually, you will learn to hold your breath for a longer time.
- A method that requires long preparation: learn to breathe using the diaphragm. Having mastered it, you can not only cope with panic attacks, but learn how to prevent them. This technique is based on a deep breath: try to fill the area of the diaphragm with air first and only then the lungs. Another important point - exhalation should be slower than inhalation. If you conduct such training (several deep breaths and exhalations) regularly three to four times a day, your body will learn to relax. And when a stressful situation arises, you need to start breathing exercises immediately, without waiting for the stress to turn into a panic.
No one argues that the easiest and fastest way to calm the nervous system is through medication. But the drugs are addictive and may eventually turn into new problems. Try starting with herbal tinctures after consulting with your doctor first.
- Chamomile tea. It acts on the receptors of the brain and perfectly calms, especially useful at bedtime.
- Valerian. A wonderful and time-tested remedy, the only negative: it causes drowsiness.
- Passiflora, or passion flower. The infusion of dried flowers and leaves helps with conditions of anxiety, anxiety, fear, heart palpitations.
- Linden blossom. Tea from dried inflorescences is recommended for increased nervous irritability and mild sleep disturbances.
- Melissa. Fresh stems with leaves or peeled dried leaves, brewed with boiling water or added to tea, soothe and relieve nervous tension.
It is important to understand: panic attacks are a problem that can be dealt with naturally, independently, without the use of potent drugs and emergency medical care.
Could this happen to you?
Panic attacks are a kind of defensive reaction of a person to a situation that seems threatening. The most common underlying cause of this reaction is stress. Initially, it seems to a person that he coped well with a stressful situation, but after a while the reaction of the body suddenly appears as a panic attack. Sometimes this can happen even a few months after the stress experienced. This is due to the individual characteristics of the psyche.
Usually the first physical symptom of a panic is an increased heartbeat. Many complain of a lack of air, dizziness, fainting. Other possible symptoms are trembling hands and feet, pain or discomfort in the chest, cold sweat, a feeling of loss, unreality, and pain in the stomach. The attack lasts from three to ten minutes, but in highly excitable people the state of panic can last up to half an hour. Physical symptoms are accompanied by a feeling of uncontrolled fear. It is important to understand that, no matter how hard it is to survive such an attack, it cannot cause serious harm to health and is rarely associated with the manifestation of dangerous physical or mental ailments. It is generated only by your imagination.
In nature, there is no cure for anxiety, because this is a natural human reaction, and panic is a repeatedly intensified, "concentrated" anxiety.
Face your fears
Obsessive fears (phobias) affect our lives much more than we might think. If you are subject to them, you will be helped by the realization that there are so many of these fears. And if you start listing them and imagine how many people are prone to various phobias, even the most exotic, they will not seem so serious. We give only the six most "popular".
1 Claustrophobia (fear of confined space).
2 Agoraphobia (fear of open space)
3 Autophobia (social phobia, fear of loneliness).
4 Bateophobia (fear of heights).
5 Nosophobia (panic fear of contracting and getting sick).
6 Intimophobia (fear of intimacy, not only sexual, but also spiritual).
Sound therapy: in harmony with nature
It is very useful for people prone to panic conditions to get out into the nature, into the forest, and to the water as often as possible. The rustle of foliage, the murmur of a stream or the sound of the surf are soothing and soothing. No wonder these healing natural sounds are recorded on discs or cassettes intended for relaxation sessions. Such sessions of “audio relaxation” should be carried out regularly, taking a bath, before bedtime or in the morning - depending on what time of day is especially stressful for you.
Sounds that also have a favorable and relaxing effect on the nervous system and psyche:
*Sounds of the rain. It is especially pleasant to fall asleep to these sounds, feeling yourself warm and completely safe.
*Birdsong. Unless, of course, this singing did not wake you at dawn, pulled out of a sweet dream.
*Classical music. It has already been proven that the works of Mozart, Gluck and Vivaldi have a psychotherapeutic effect.
Irina Chukaeva, cardiologist, doctor of medical sciences, professor
There are so-called somatic manifestations of anxiety. The most significant are cardiorespiratory symptoms: tachycardia (palpitations), rhythm disturbances and pain, usually described as “acute” or “piercing”. Often there are also tremors, clearly visible with outstretched arms, increased sweating, unpleasant sensation in the abdomen, general weakness, dizziness. In some cases, nausea may occur. Less commonly, diarrhea. A person may experience a sense of unreality of the environment, the loss of contact with the outside world. Often all this is accompanied by a feeling of lack of air, leading to interruptions in breathing. Because of this, there is a feeling of muscle stiffness in the limbs, a loss of sensitivity or a sensation of pinpoint injections around the mouth, fingers and toes. It is very important to remember that a panic attack with a predominance of cardiovascular manifestations is sometimes mistakenly diagnosed as myocardial infarction. On the other hand, with a formidable pheochromocetoma disease, there may be a panic-like autonomic disorder. And with a thyroid disease (hyperthyroidism), increased irritability is possible, regarded as panic. Thus, the establishment of a true disease is possible only after a detailed clinical and laboratory examination. Neuroses, in the structure of which there are also panic manifestations, represent one of the three main groups of inorganic mental disorders. And although they are not characterized by a serious change in mental functions, treatment should be carried out only by a doctor. There are many psychological therapies for such patients. These include, but are not limited to:
- rational psychotherapy;
- supportive psychotherapy;
- relaxation therapy methods (including meditation and hypnosis).
In some cases, pharmacological methods are used when drugs are prescribed that reduce the severity of the reaction to stress. It should be remembered that drug therapy should be carried out along with appropriate psychotherapy, but in no case instead of it.