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  • Writer's pictureValentina

Breaking Free from Panic: Understanding, Identifying, and Managing Panic Attacks

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

Panic attacks are terrifying, overwhelming experiences that can leave those who suffer from them feeling helpless and confused. However, understanding what a panic attack is, recognizing its signs, and knowing how to manage it can make all the difference. In this blog, we'll explore panic attacks, help you determine if you're experiencing them, provide strategies for managing panic attacks, and emphasize the importance of seeking psychological support through specialized therapists like those at TheSpaceForYou online therapy service. What is a Panic Attack? A panic attack is a sudden and intense surge of fear or anxiety that typically reaches its peak within minutes. During an attack, you may experience a range of distressing physical and psychological symptoms, including a racing heart, chest pain, shortness of breath, trembling, sweating, and a sense of impending doom. Panic attacks can occur unexpectedly or in response to specific triggers. Do I Suffer from Panic Attacks? If you are unsure whether you are experiencing panic attacks, consider the following questions: 1. Do you frequently experience intense, unprovoked episodes of fear or anxiety? 2. Do these episodes bring on physical symptoms like a racing heart, chest tightness, or trembling? 3. Do these episodes occur suddenly and reach a peak within a few minutes?

4. Do you worry about having more panic attacks or change your behaviour to avoid situations that might trigger them? If you find yourself answering 'yes' to these questions, you may be dealing with panic attacks and should consider seeking help. Managing Panic Attacks: Breaking the Vicious Cycle Panic attacks can create a vicious cycle. They often start with an initial trigger or anxious thought, setting off the body's fight-or-flight response through the sympathetic nervous system. This response floods your body with stress hormones, leading to physical symptoms like increased heart rate and rapid breathing. These symptoms, in turn, can intensify your fear and anxiety, reinforcing the panic attack. Breaking this cycle is essential for managing panic attacks. Evidence-based therapies like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are highly effective in achieving this goal. CBT helps individuals identify and challenge the miss-interpretation of the physical symptoms that trigger panic attacks, gradually reducing their frequency and severity.

How to STOP Panic Attacks:

1. Understand what feeds your anxiety attacks. Therapy will help you to understand the body sensations that you experience and STOP fearing them as well as the role of avoidance.

2. Remind yourself that you are SAFE. The symptoms of panic despite being very unpleasant, can not harm you. These feelings will pass. Try practising Grounding techniques, try to breathe slowly out (this will help with hyperventilation and dizziness), try to walk on the spot, and even try to yawn. Anxiety can be very uncomfortable but you can cope.

3. Anxiety is in your thoughts and your body. To learn how to manage our emotions, we need to learn how to respond to our body and to our thoughts in a helpful way. Therapy helps us to be more aware of our body's sensations and our thoughts and increases psychological flexibility and resilience.

4. STOP fearing anxiety. Anxiety about Anxiety is what makes things worse. Anxiety feeds our anxiety and makes us feel anxious about how we feel and what this means, perhaps sad or hopeless about not being able to cope and perhaps angry about finding ourselves there again, perhaps guilty for not "doing the right thing" and so on.

5. Remind yourself that anxiety is not a problem, anxiety can be helpful. The real problem is the intensity of the emotion that makes it unbearable. In therapy, you can learn more about your feelings and start having a different relationship with them. We become more open to our feelings and when this happens we no longer fear losing control! We feel able to experience the full range of emotions without being driven by them (often to avoid unpleasant feelings we end up avoiding life or become numb).

Seeking Psychological Support If you suspect you are experiencing panic attacks, seeking professional help is crucial. Specialized therapists, such as those at TheSpaceForYou online therapy service, have the expertise and experience to guide you through the process of managing and overcoming panic attacks. Online therapy offers convenience and accessibility, making it easier to get the support you need.

Conclusion Panic attacks can be debilitating, but they are treatable. Understanding what panic attacks are, identifying their signs, and breaking the vicious cycle through evidence-based therapies like CBT can help you regain control over your life. Don't hesitate to reach out for psychological support from specialized therapists, such as those available through TheSpaceForYou online therapy service. Remember, with the right guidance and support, you can break free from the grip of panic attacks and lead a fulfilling, anxiety-free life.

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