Everyone must have experienced this panic attack. This can happen anywhere, anytime, and to anyone. It would begin suddenly and without warning. Also, it doesn’t matter whether someone has a mental disorder or not.
Surprisingly, it’s unknown what the causes and how to prevent this attack. Therefore sometimes, when the first strike comes, we don’t prepare anything, and in the end, it interferes with our daily activities. Now, are you curious about the panic attack? Let’s read until the end!
What is a Panic Attack?
According to Cathy Frank M. D—a director of Outpatient Behavioral Health Services at Henry Ford Hospital, a panic attack is a reaction that arises from a stressful situation that occurs spontaneously. This attack can’t be predicted when it will happen.
Once it comes, you will feel worried and fear continuously, which can interfere with your mood and focus when doing your work. In addition, someone who experiences it has excessive feelings of anxiety about something even though they aren’t experiencing danger or threat.
Causes of Panic Attack
The exact cause of panic attacks is not known. However, many experts suspect this occurs because there is an error in the part of the brain and nervous system in interpreting body movements or sensations. This results in sensation or movement being considered a threat.
Meanwhile, according to the University of Michigan Health, panic attacks can be caused by several conditions, such as:
- Health problems like an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
- Excessive stress or other mood disorders.
- Take certain medications, such as those used to treat asthma and heart problems.
- Using too much nicotine or caffeine.
- Heavy alcohol consumption.
- Living with high-stress levels for a long time.
- Having a traumatic event.
- Genetic factors in the family.
- Changes in substances have an impact on brain function work.
A study made by the Cleveland Clinic explains that in adolescence or early adulthood, panic attacks first occur. However, people of all ages, including children, can experience this condition.
While in terms of gender, women are twice as likely to experience panic attacks than men. In addition, a person also has a higher chance of having a panic attack if he or she has a parent experiencing depression or bipolar disorder.
According to Cindy J. Aaronson from Ted-Ed’s video, she mentioned that:
“Even if you’ve never had a panic attack, understanding them will help you identify one in yourself or someone else—and recognizing them is the first step in preventing them.”
This quote should build absolutely in our minds so that we can help ourselves, even people around us, from panic attacks.
You can watch this video to have a better understanding of what causes panic attacks and how to prevent them.
Symptoms of Panic Attack
Because there are no clear triggers, the cycle of panic attacks can vary. However, panic attacks will generally occur intensely within a few minutes, then gradually decrease, and then disappear, leaving a feeling of tiredness in the person who experiences it.
Here are some symptoms of a panic attack that you should watch out for:
- A rapid heartbeat.
- Chest pain.
- Feeling dizzy and wanting to faint.
- Trembling and shaking in the body.
- Shortness of breath.
- Feeling sweaty.
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.
- Cold sweat until the body turns red.
- Feeling a loss of control.
- Hot flashes.
- Tightening or choking feeling in the throat.
- Dry mouth or lips.
- Headache and migraines.
- Stomach cramps.
- Muscle pain or tension.
- Feeling depersonalization and derealization.
- Having difficulty falling asleep (insomnia).
- Feeling like a problem is coming.
- Fear of dying or impending doom.
Frequently the term panic attack is confused with anxiety disorder. However, these two things are different. Keep on reading so that you will understand these two terms!
Anxiety disorder is a term to describe a mental disorder characterized by anxiety symptoms. Meanwhile, a panic attack is a feeling of fear and worry that appears suddenly and intensely, sometimes for no apparent reason. So, it can be said that a panic attack is a symptom of an attack that can happen to anyone, even people who don’t have mental disorders.
2. Trigger Symptoms
The cause of anxiety disorder is due to a clear trigger, such as a phobia of heights or narrow places. Symptoms can last for minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months, depending on the severity of the sufferer.
Meanwhile, when a person experiences a panic attack, the feeling of panic can appear suddenly, without a clear reason or trigger. Panic attack symptoms usually last for about 10 minutes or more.
Even in some cases, sufferers can also experience further panic attacks at the same time. In addition, sufferers can also feel anxious or stressed throughout the day before undergoing a panic attack.
How to Prevent Panic Attack
1. Maintain a regular sleep pattern
One of the essential and excellent things for the body is maintaining a regular sleep pattern. You should not force your body while doing excessive activities. Sleep patterns are normal and good for the body and mind, which is about 7 to 8 hours a day.
2. Accept all situations according to their portion
You will find it easier to try to be calm in understanding and accepting all situations in the current conditions without feeling worried and anxious.
3. Balancing all daily activities
You can certainly further reduce the symptoms of panic attacks experienced by balancing daily activities. Try to manage the time between work and personal life in a balanced way. Get used to yourself to organize all activities in the morning so that in the next day you have time to please yourself.
4. Avoid drinks that contain excessive caffeine and coffee
You can reduce some drinks that contain caffeine in excess. In one day, you can drink enough one to two times. If you consume excessively, the panic attack symptoms you experience will be prolonged and indeed not good for the body inside.
5. Relax the body
You can do one way to reduce or overcome panic attacks that occur by relaxing the body. There are many kinds of relaxation, such as meditation, yoga, pilates and so on. You can choose one of the various types of relaxation that you like so that when you do it, you can make your body more excited and fun.
6. Keep breathing more slowly and deeply
One of the symptoms that panic attack sufferers often experience is difficulty breathing properly. You can deal with it by inhaling and exhaling regularly and slowly for three to five seconds during the panic attack. It can reduce symptoms when you experience them, so you can focus more on maintaining better breathing.
7. Consuming food with balanced nutrition
According to The Asian Parent.com, several scientific studies have proven that consuming foods containing little nutrients is very risky for increasing panic attacks in a person. This was explained by a nutritionist from Isabella Plains Medical Center in Australia named Tania Matherson.
In her scientific article, Tania explains that improving quality also has an effect on improving mood. In an article published in the Dietitian Association of Australia, Tania wrote that “People who eat nutritious foods tend to be in a better mood and think clearly. Certain types of nutrients such as folic acid and various vitamins are very likely to be able to avoid risk factors for panic attack and depression”.
Can’t consume nutritious food in large quantities? Don’t worry. You can also consume nutritious food in small amounts to reduce panic.
8. Doing exercise regularly
Regular exercise can certainly reduce or overcome the symptoms of panic attacks that you experience. You can exercise regularly at least three times a week with a time range of 15 to 20 minutes. There are many types of sports, of course, you can choose one of the various types of sports you like, for example, running in the morning, sit-ups, badminton, etc.
9. Ask for support from those closest to you
Community, family, friends, relatives, or girlfriends can provide better encouragement so that you can reduce the symptoms that occur when a panic attack comes.
10. Cope with stress well
When you face panic attacks excessively, of course, you will have the effects, such as excessive stress. You can deal with and manage the stress that arises by doing activities or things you like, such as reading books, listening to music, pilates, yoga, or meditation.
If you need a recommendation of a song that can heal and relax your mind during your meditation, you should go to this: meditation music for panic attacks.
Those are some essential things you need to know about a panic attack. From now on, take the first steps to prevent it so that you don’t feel any lasting impact when the attack comes.
If you experience a panic attack that lasts for approximately 5 months, you should immediately consult a doctor or psychologist so that your condition doesn’t get worse. Stay healthy, happy people! xoxo