Your heart is racing, you feel weak, and a sense of panic washes over you. Some people mistake this feeling for a heart attack or another underlying condition. However, for many people with anxiety, these symptoms characterize a panic attack. What is a panic attack, and how do individuals with anxiety overcome them?
What Is a Panic Attack?
The symptoms of a panic attack can be extremely jarring and disorienting. Those who experience panic attacks may experience symptoms including:
- Fast heart rate
- Pound heartbeat
- Feeling weak or dizzy
- Sweats and chills
- Chest pain and difficulty breathing
- Panic or a sense of terror
- Feeling like you’re losing control
These episodes typically strike without warning. Sometimes, a panic attack can occur in response to triggers, such as a stressful event or something that reminds someone of past trauma. However, they also commonly occur out of the blue.
What is a panic attack exactly? The episode tends to be brief, lasting less than 10 minutes at a time. However, the real cause of panic attacks and panic disorders is unclear. There is some evidence that panic attacks can be genetic, especially for those with histories of depression or anxiety in the family. However, anyone can experience a panic attack at any time without cause.
Who Do Panic Attacks Affect?
Although panic attacks can happen to anyone, there are a few populations who are at a higher risk of experiencing. Individuals with anxiety, panic disorders, or PTSD may experience panic attacks more often, especially in response to triggers. For example, a war veteran with PTSD may experience panic attacks when they hear fireworks because the sound reminds them of gunshots.
What To Do During a Panic Attack
Luckily, panic attacks often don’t present any major threats to health. However, they can disrupt an individual’s day and the experience itself can feel overwhelming. There are a few strategies a person experiencing a panic attack can use to calm oneself down and shorten the length of the attack. These include:
- Recognizing the panic attack. Ask yourself “what is a panic attack” and what symptoms do you tend to experience?
- Use deep breathing. Hyperventilation and exasperate a panic attack.
- Relax your muscles
- Think of something calming or focus on a nearby object to orient yourself
Everyone experiences panic attacks differently and has different methods that calm them. Working with a therapist can help you understand your triggers and methods for calming yourself during an attack.
Treatment at the Trauma Counseling Center of Los Angeles
If you suffer from a panic attack, panic disorders, PTSD, or anxiety, then you’re not alone. The professionals at the Trauma Counseling Center of Los Angeles are ready to help you overcome your trauma with anxiety therapy and innovative techniques like Somatic therapy, EMDR therapy, brainspotting and more.
What is a panic attack? Find out by visiting the leaders in trauma treatment and calling us today at 855-997-7101. Begin your journey to a future of healing, choice, and clarity with the Trauma Counseling Center of Los Angeles.