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What to do in a panic attack? Practical Guide

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When you have a panic attack, you suddenly feel terror, without there being an imminent or real danger. In this situation, you will even think and feel that you could lose control. It is what in clinical psychology we know as an episode of acute anxiety, or anxiety attack.

What are panic attacks?

Panic attacks manifest themselves in any situation, anywhere and without warning. A person who has suffered a panic attack will fear that it will happen again and this can cause them to avoid those places or situations in which they had a panic attack before.

See you overwhelmed by the anxiety It can happen to you at different times in life and for different causes, but if you have symptoms that appear suddenly for a few seconds and disappear, it may be related to attacks of panic.

Frequent symptoms

The most common symptoms of a panic attack are rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, pulmonary hyperventilation, tremors, or dizziness. It occurs when you find yourself in a situation that you perceive without a way out, the discomfort appears unexpectedly and produces despair or

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afraid. It is possible that the affectation that causes this intense anxiety is caused by something that is threatening to the person or to their environment.

Physical signs during a panic episode increase rapidly, are generally of short duration, the intensity of the symptoms makes the person feel that more time passes than the crisis actually takes. It is a difficult situation that advises to be treated by specialists to prevent it from becoming more acute in the future or becoming chronic with the appearance of a clinical picture such as panic disorder.

Panic attacks are more common in women than in men. They appear more frequently in young adults. Its onset of appearance is more common when the person is subjected to a excess stress in their life.

How can you act before a panic attack?

Generally, people who suffer from panic attacks perceive the threatening situation at a higher level, which causes the body to be in a state of alert and to activate the parasympathetic nervous system that prepares us for dangerous situations.

When we have identified what causes us anxiety, the process of tension before this event does not necessarily begin when we are exposed to what causes us anxiety. Sometimes we already know that we are going to face it and unconsciously our brain is preparing for the moment of tension, therefore, we are in the presence of anticipatory anxiety that can be worked on beforehand to reduce the perception of danger and attacks of panic.

Step-by-step guide to alleviating an anxiety attack

If you have not yet had a consultation with a psychologist (which is recommended), and taking into account that each case must be treated individually, I can recommend you to combine two exercises: mindfulness outside and deep breathing that will help you better cope with the moment of the panic attack.

1. Attention out

This visualization technique consists of changing the focus of attention in the face of the stimulus that you perceive as a threat. If you are mentally connected with the stressor, it will be more difficult for the anxiety situation to regulate itself.

You should try to imagine something that you like and what you enjoy: a meal, a sport, your favorite song or any element that results pleasant for you, in this way you will divert attention from the situation that generates stress and your brain will focus on those stimuli positive.

2. Deep breathing

You can do this practice that will help you lower the level of activation through three phases: Inhalation, Retention and Exhalation. It consists of taking air through the nose for a few seconds, holding the air for the same seconds, and then expelling the air in the same number of seconds that it was taken. For example: Inhale (mentally count to five), Hold (mentally count to five) and exhale (mentally count to five), and repeat the exercise. Possibly the first time it is performed you will not be able to maintain the five seconds in the three phases, do not worry, It is important to do the exercise several times and you will gradually feel a slowdown in the rhythm cardiac.

Remember that it is important that you go to a psychology professional since deep breathing and out-of-mind techniques are only emergency tools that can be useful at the time of a panic attack, but they do not completely eliminate these episodes or identify their Causes. The vast majority of affected people improve with psychotherapy. A psychologist will be able to work with you, providing you with strategies and tools so that you learn to regulate anxiety and prevent it from overflowing in the future.
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