Panic or anxiety attacks can be very frightening, and isolating for the person who has them. This can end up causing more such attacks as the anxiety of having an attack builds upon the initial fear.
Unlike the way panic attacks are portrayed in film and TV, not everyone gets the same symptoms. You may get the fast-beating heart and shortness of breath, might be overwhelmed with a feeling of doom, or may find your body temperature fluctuates quickly. You might even experience panic attacks as sudden “nit-pickiness” or intense irritability. Whatever your symptoms are, recognising them as they begin is an important step towards managing your panic attacks.
The good news is, there are ways to take control of your panic attacks – not just while they are happening, but also as prevention.
This article has excellent suggestions for how to manage panic attacks – both during attacks and as general lifestyle changes.
Something that often comes up for people with panic attacks is the fear of fainting. A couple of years ago I attended a training session on delivering CBT for panic attacks – one thing which struck me was to learn that although during a panic attack you feel as though you will faint, you won’t. The reason is that for you to faint, your blood pressure would have to drop. However, during a panic attack, your blood pressure rises (this might also cause your face to flush). This simple piece of information is something I think is vital to pass on, as it is reassuring to sufferers – the fear of fainting and what might happen after seems to be quite high, so knowing that that won’t happen is one of a number of small steps towards reducing panic.
If you would like to explore your panic attacks with me in therapy, you can contact me to arrange this.