Panic attacks can be very scary, but they are common and affect millions of people.
Panic Attacks can seem to emerge from nowhere, however there is always trigger or cause, albeit that you may not remember or know consciously what the cause is. A cause can stem from recent or past events, or a culmination of events sometimes going back as far as childhood and is incorrectly linked to the ‘flight or fight’ or ‘protection’ mechanism, pumping the body with adrenaline in order to give you a surge of energy enabling you to run from the imminent ‘perceived’ danger or acquire a brief power surge to fight.
Unlike the caveman running from a wild beast about to attack, as the adrenaline is unused to fight or flight, the adrenaline overload causes symptoms of anxiety which can then lead to a ‘panic attack’.
Rest assured you are not alone. To follow are some tips from The Speakmans on how to deal with or alleviate panic attacks:
- See it for what it is and NOT how it feels. Your mind is trying to protect you from a perceived danger so you are really having a ‘Protection Attack’. You are in protection mode and not panic, as being in protection mode means your body is functioning normally and is in control. Knowing this should make you feel better. if you are under no threat you can reassure yourself by saying “I am under no threat, feeling this way is a misunderstanding because I am not in danger.”
- Stop Everything. Don’t add to your adrenaline rush, find a place to sit down and gather your thoughts. Concentrate on your breathing and imagine that everything around you has gone into slow motion including your breathing. (For some counting backwards from 50 slowly with eyes closed is very beneficial). Find composure first and then calmly leave if necessary.
- Trace the feelings. It is likely to feel that the anxiety feeling rises from your stomach and up into your throat, almost as if in a circle. Once you can imagine the movement of the feeling, imaging reversing it and spinning it in the opposite direction.
- Focus on small goals. Distract your mind and occupy your thoughts to distract your anxieties. The easiest way to do this is to identify simple goals. For example, concentrate first on sitting comfortably, followed by which exit you will shortly leave by, followed by what you would like for dinner or what you’ll watch on TV that evening.
- Laugh. ‘Protection Attacks’ can be scary and dealing with them is no laughing matter; but laughter is at the other end of the emotional scale of fear, panic and anxiety. When you first begin to feel the onset of an attack, immediately beckon images of a time that you laughed uncontrollably with as much clarity as you can. The positive feel good endorphins could entirely stop the attack in its tracks. This will also assist in distracting your mind.
- Chat. Once panic sets in, some sufferers feel very isolated and often embarrassed by their condition and therefore prefer to suffer alone. But one alternative you can do to alleviate anxiety is to force yourself to socialise in a tense situation and to talk to people. Smile and seek out conversation. It may be hard at first, but you will find that occupying yourself is much easier than worrying about the onset of panicky thoughts.
- Positive Reassurances. Remind yourself anxiety is not usually life threatening. You know you will be ok as you always come out of anxiety and ‘protection attacks’ and have got over them before. Remind yourself that this is just a mistaken ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ reaction which many people experience in their lives.
(Information taken from The Speakmans tour brochure).