Sunday, February 22, 2009

Panic Attack

How To Stop a Panic Attack

For those who have never had a panic attack, it is hard to understand just how much of a hellish experience having one can be. Panic attacks are scary because they seem to have no particular, single trigger. They can start at any time, without warning. This unpredictability makes them all the more dreaded for those who have had them, because it can leave one with a sense of continual dread that an attack could strike at any time.

The symptoms of a panic attack are unmistakable. They start with an odd feeling in your head or chest - a bit like you are being smothered or like someone is constricting your chest and making it hard for you to breathe. As it comes on more strongly, your heart and breathing rates speed up - even if you are sitting down or standing still. During an attack, you may suddenly find yourself wanting to "find your happy place" - which is usually somewhere off by yourself and away from others.

The attack can affect not only your body, but your mind as well, and you may start thinking thoughts that you feel you cannot control. You might feel like you are going to lose control of your body, for example, or that the world is closing in around you. You may even feel like you are going crazy.

Here are 4 tips for how to stop a panic attack:

1. Know that it is going to end eventually.

When in the midst of a panic attack, the worst part is that you may feel like it has control of you, rather you of it. Having control over one's body and mind is so natural that it feels like a human right. Thus, when having an attack, it is especially appalling to feel that we have lost control momentarily. In order to reduce the psychological power the attack has over you, focus your thoughts on the fact that this will definitely end and you will make it through this.

2. Understand that it is something you will eventually be able to control.

If you have had one or more attacks before, upon the initial onset of an attack you may have the feeling of "Uh-oh, here we go again." This can be like adding insult to injury, because you may have been harboring the secret hope that the days of your attacks were over. In order to reduce this additional, unneeded anxiety to shorten your attack, focus on the notion that you will be able to eventually end these attacks once and for all.

3. Do not resist, but do not "give in" to the attack, either.

Now on to dealing with the physical symptoms of this experience. During the attack, you will want desperately to end the attack right away, which will cause you to try to resist it. This resistance could actually make the attack more intense. On the other hand, at the same time it is important to retain a sense of self-control by not giving in to the attack. What you need to do is to ride it out until its natural conclusion.

4. Educate yourself about how to stop future attacks.

Once your attack has ended, it is time to arm yourself with the knowledge needed to avoid future attacks. The good news is that you can find ways to end this condition for good, so that you never have another attack again. Don't give up - knowledge is power and you can educate yourself to find a solution to your problem.

Going through a panic attack is frightening and ultimately very exhausting. It can not only make you feel terrible, it can actually interfere with your ability to fulfill your life's responsibilities. You owe it to yourself to do whatever you can to end this problem.

Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder – Medications

Medicines for panic disorder are often used to control the symptoms of panic attacks, reduce their number and severity, and reduce the anxiety and fear associated with having another attack. Medicines work best if they are used along with counseling and home treatment, such as relaxation exercises.

What to Think About

Panic disorder is best treated with both medicines and counseling such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on modifying certain thinking and behavior patterns. When these two therapies are combined, relapses of panic attacks occur far less frequently than when only one treatment is used. Your symptoms of panic disorder should start to improve within a few weeks after beginning medicines. If improvement is not seen within 6 to 8 weeks, a higher dose or another medicine may be needed.

Most medicines used to treat panic attacks need to be continued for a year or longer and then may be decreased gradually over several weeks. If you experience panic attacks again while medicines are being stopped, the medicines may be continued for at least a few months more. Some people may need to stay on medicines for a long time to keep symptoms under control.

You may also need to be reevaluated for other conditions associated with panic disorder, such as depression or substance abuse, because having one of these conditions makes treatment more difficult.

Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder – Prevention

Although panic disorder cannot be prevented, you may be able to prevent or reduce the number of additional panic attacks with proper treatment. Simply avoiding certain situations or places does not guarantee that a panic attack will not occur under new circumstances. In fact, avoiding situations and places where panic attacks have occurred often increases your level of anxiety.

You may be able to reduce the severity of future attacks if you follow home treatment practices such as:

Ø Reducing anxiety and limiting triggers like caffeine and alcohol.

Ø Continuing medical treatment and counseling, such as exposure therapy.

Ø Calling your doctor if symptoms recur or get worse.

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