FM/CFS/ME RESOURCES - What to Do If You're Having a Panic Attack

 

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What to Do If You're Having a Panic Attack

Pounding heart. Sweating. Nausea. Chest pain. Feeling weak. If you've felt these symptoms, chances are you've experienced a panic attack. Panic attacks are frightening, disruptive - and more common than you might think. At least six million Americans have had panic attacks and experts estimate that 28 percent of us will experience a panic attack in our life.


What Is A Panic Attack?

A panic attack is a sudden and repeated bout of fear, typically of certain disaster or losing control. It's a type of anxiety disorder. Panic attacks typically come on quickly and last 10 to 30 minutes. They can occur anytime, even when you're sleeping! Panic attacks generally begin during the late teens or early adulthood.

The good news is that panic attacks are the most treatable form of anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, however, many people who experience panic attacks hesitate to seek treatment due to feelings of shame, anxiety or humiliation. Using the four easy steps below, you can learn to end a panic attack in as little as three minutes.


How To Handle A Panic Attack

It takes three minutes for your adrenal glands to fill your body with the adrenaline response. It also only takes three minutes for your body to stop the adrenaline reaction. If you stop a panic attack as soon as it starts, the reaction only has to last for three minutes. Stopping a panic attack is very simple. All you have to do is stop the emergency message from being sent to your adrenal glands.

Learn these four simple steps and your panic attack will only last for three minutes. Once you understand how this works, you never have to have a panic attack again. If panic attacks have been a recurring problem, write the four basic steps on a little card, with a list of sample Coping Statements on the back. Mark the card with bright stripes to make it easy to find in your wallet, and keep it with you everywhere you go until you memorize the steps and know them thoroughly. Study these steps and learn them in advance. If you have a panic attack, get out your card immediately and follow it exactly. Once you learn these steps you won't need the card.


STEP #1 - Relax

Relax by taking slow, deep, complete breaths. Calm yourself by remembering that you are only having a panic attack and that nothing more serious is happening to you. Continue to take slow, deep, complete breaths. Slow, deep, complete breaths will relax your body, which is the first step to reversing the release of adrenaline.


STEP #2 - Stop Negative Thinking

Stop negative thinking by shouting the word "STOP!!!" really loud inside your head. By shouting the word "STOP" you are interrupting the emergency message that your brain is sending to your adrenal glands. Often people having a panic attack get into an endless loop repeating the same catastrophic thoughts over and over in their head. Interrupting this endless loop gives you the opportunity to replace the scary message with a calming one.


STEP #3 - Use Coping Statements

A coping statement is a positive statement that is at least as strong as the catastrophic statement that you have been scaring yourself with. Replace the negative thought with a positive one. Choose a statement that addresses the negative thought.

For example, if you think that you are having a heart attack (a common fear during a panic attack) then you might be saying something in your head like, "Oh my God, I'm having a heart attack" or, "I'm gonna die, oh my God, I'm gonna die!" After you shout the word "STOP!" immediately replace the fear thought with a positive statement that helps you to cope with the situation, such as "I'm only having a panic attack and it will be over in three minutes if I relax" or, "My fear is making my heart pound harder, my heart is fine."

If you feel afraid hearing footsteps behind you on the street you might say, "I've walked down this street hundreds of times" or, "I walk alone on the street every night when I come home from work; what I hear behind me is someone else who is walking home from work."

Other coping statements might be, "I've gotten through this situation many times before and I can get through it again" or, "I am fine, everything is fine."

Brainstorm the kinds of fearful thoughts that bring on panic for you and then make a long list of coping statements that you can look at when you need to rather than trying to think of coping statements in the middle of a panic attack.

Note: If your fear is in response to a real danger I suggest that you consider making new choices that address those fears. If you are concerned about your health consult with your doctor.


STEP #4 - Accept Your Feelings

Accepting your feelings is very important. Minimizing this experience usually serves to perpetuate it.

Start by identifying what emotion you are feeling. Most panic attacks are caused by the emotion of fear or some variation of fear. Identify the emotion you are feeling and find the reason that you feel it.

Validate that feeling and the reason for it. If you are having a panic attack before giving a speech, you are afraid because it's scary. Stage fright is a common cause of fear and panic. If you're afraid that you're having a heart attack, it's certainly valid to be afraid of that. If you are afraid of footsteps behind you on the street it's reasonable to be afraid that something bad might happen to you.

In all of these cases take the appropriate precautions. Have a regular check up so that you know that your heart is healthy. Walk in a well-lit area and be aware of your surroundings on the street. Walk like a warrior and not like a victim. These are all important precautions to ensure your safety. Then, when you use a coping statement that reminds you that you had a check up recently and that your heart is fine, you can reassure yourself that it's okay to be afraid, knowing that you are safe.

Fear is a positive emotion that reminds you to take care of yourself. Listen to your feelings, take good care of yourself, and keep your emotions in proportion to the situation by keeping an appropriate perspective.

Many people have stopped having panic attacks after learning these steps. However, there is a deeper solution to permanently resolving panic and anxiety responses, fully giving you emotional freedom and happiness. Your mind has the power to significantly influence your negative responses in all situations. By working with hypnosis and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a powerful way of changing or enhancing your thinking processes) we can achieve any goal, solve any problem and create the excellence you desire in all areas of your life.


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