Panic attacks are scary and can make you feel like you are dying or having a heart attack. They feel like it is the end of the world for you and often present themselves as more life threatening than they actually are.
Although scary, they are not a life or death situation and there are methods for coping when experiencing a panic attack. Let’s look at understanding what a panic attack is and then focus on how to cope with one.
Panic Attack Definition
A panic attack in essence is an extreme momentary fear that brings about physical symptoms.
This intense fear makes you feel like you are about to die and that something bad is happening to you, perhaps you have never felt anything like this before and if so, it can be quite scary.
Overall, it is extreme fear, worry, anxiety and panic combined together in its most intense form. The feeling can last from 5 minutes to even 25 minutes depending on how you manage to cope.
It can be triggered from the same triggers causing your anxiety or, it can be situational if your the type of person that does not know how to manage their emotions. Such examples include a major argument with a spouse or loved one.
It can also be triggered when overall anxiety is not very well managed. These panic attacks tend to appear as though they are “out of the blue.” You can be sitting comfortably and not worrying about anything in particular but the anxiety that you have been suppressing stays in your subconscious mind.
That same anxiety can come out when you least expect it in the form of a panic attack.
With fear the ‘flight or fight’ response is triggered in order to protect you from what your mind and anxiety is perceiving as a dangerous situation.
These signs and symptoms will be discussed further in the article but they are the shortness of breath, shaking, tingling limbs feeling that you are experiencing.
Difference between anxiety and panic attacks
The context of both anxiety and panic attack are more or less the same. Such as extreme worry is the leading cause of anxiety, persistent and extreme anxiety is the leading cause of a panic attack.
When anxiety is not managed, it can lead to physical changes in the body like increased heart rate and shortness of breath that essentially make up the components of a panic attack. Therefore, a panic attack is anxiety in its most extreme state.
One can also have an anxiety attack. An anxiety attack differs from a panic attack. It is increased anxiety in a given moment that is triggered by a stressful factor. A panic attack can happen out of nowhere without any triggers.
The anxiety attack symptoms are far milder in nature than a panic attack as they exhibit as extreme stress and, may or may not, follow with physical symptoms such as increased heart rate. Panic attacks are more physical in symptoms and are associated with extreme panic.
Causes of anxiety and panic attacks can be rooted to the same triggers manifesting the anxiety in the first place. Chronic uncontrolled stress response.
Signs of Panic Attack
- Extreme fear, end of the world, my life is over, impeding doom fear
- Racing thoughts that you are dying or having a heart attack or stroke
- Heavy tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath and difficulty catching your breath
- Panting, increased respiratory rate
- Numbness and tingling in hands, legs, or face
- Dizziness and faintness
- Blurred vision
- Headache or migraine
- Sweating profusely
- Sudden extreme heat wave or chill
- Shaking and tremor
- Feeling of lump in throat or inability to swallow
- Inability to speak/stutter
- Intense outburst of fear, emotion, crying
- Increased heart rate
- Increased Confusion and disconnection from your body and surroundings
Help for Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Coping mechanisms when a panic attack is about to occur or has already started include…
- Remember that you are experiencing this panic attack due to your anxiety and that you are safe, it will pass, and you will survive
- Stay grounded, focus on things that bring you joy
- Be present, look around and focus on things that you can see, feel, and touch
- Repeat a calming mantra
- Hug your loved one for a while and embrace the love
- Focus on breathing, take slow, deep, pursed lip breaths to increase oxygen levels and decrease carbon dioxide levels from panting
- Take appropriate prescribed medication if ordered for you such as Ativan
- Take natural anxiety relievers like Valerian root, chamomile tea, licorice root and CBD oil
- Talk to your loved one in order to refocus from negative thought
- Picture your happy place, close your eyes and envision a happy calm environment for you
- Inhale relaxing smells such as lavender, eucalyptus, or pine
- Give it time, know that the attack will pass in about 10 min time and that you have to be patient
Herbal remedies for Panic Attacks
Herbal remedies for anxiety and panic attacks include…
- Chamomile: Calming herb used in tea and helps aid sleep and relaxation
- Licorice root: Can aid in stomach discomfort caused by anxiety symptoms
- St. john’s wort: Herb improving mood and decreasing depression
- CBD (cannabidiol): As an oil, very effective stress, anxiety, and pain reliever
- Ginseng: Antioxidant that increases brain function such as mood, memory, and increases energy levels
- Ashwagandha: Reduces cortisol levels (stress hormone) and decrease stress, anxiety, and depression
- Schisandra: Potent general tonic that decreases stress hormones and fatigue
- Holy basil: Helps lower stress, anxiety and inflammation to the body
- Rhodiola: flowering plant that helps reduce stress levels
- Skullcap: Herb used for anxiety and insomnia
- Valerian: Herb that can help reduce anxiety and promote sleep
- Motherwort: Excellent for the heart and racing heart as well as heart issues due to anxiety
- Lemon balm: Herb that helps ease anxiety, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost cognitive function
- B complex vitamins: Water-soluble vitamins and are linked to improved mood
- Magnesium glycinate: Regulation of stress response, people don’t generally consume enough through diet
- Melatonin: Natural hormone in the body that can be used to aid sleep and therefore promote relaxation
- Theanine: Amino acid found in certain plants used for anxiety and lowering blood pressure
Anxiety and panic attacks can be scary. It is never easy no matter how many you experience and never feel good. However, one thing to remember is that they do pass in a relatively short period.
Many things can trigger it, or sometimes just the uncontrolled anxiety itself can be the trigger.
Either way, there are strategies to help stop the attack and remedies to help relieve anxiety and panic attacks for the future.
There are proven methods from natural resources as long as you are open-minded to experiment for the sake of your own health.
These remedies are natural and can be taken daily with no harsh side effects if this is a preferred method over prescribed medications for you.
Further information and guidance for panic attacks can be explored HERE.