Panic attacks can be frightening episodes that can happen out of nowhere and without being provoked. Some panic attack symptoms include feeling dizzy, having numbness in the fingers, chest pains, a racing heart and difficulty breathing. Some may last only a few minutes while others can last a significant amount of time. The symptoms can be incredibly frightening due to the pain, discomfort and uncertainty of when it is going to be over that often comes with panic attacks.
Some of the panic attack symptoms, such as the chest pains and difficultly breathing, mimic those of someone having a heart attack or other serious conditions. Due to some of the symptoms being similar, it is best to consult a doctor or go to the hospital immediately, especially if it is the first time having these symptoms. This can ensure that the experience isn't life threatening.
The severity of panic attack symptoms can vary, so it is best to inform family and friends how to help if one should strike. Unfortunately, one can come at any time — in the shower, while driving a car or even while watching television. It is important to avoid standing to prevent falling and getting injured. What often triggers panic attacks are major life changes, such as a big move or marriage, or even everyday stress that becomes too much.
There are some ways to help combat panic attack symptoms, including meditation, deep breathing and exercise. Following at least one of these a day can help reduce anxiety which, in turn, may help prevent the onset of an attack. Keeping a journal may also be helpful. It can also be important to keep a list of when the panic attacks take place and what significant events were taking place during that time as a record of triggers.
Long-term treatments, in addition to lifestyle changes such as exercising more and meditating, can include medication or hypnosis. It is also important to avoid triggers such as caffeine or alcohol, which could make panic attacks worse. It may also be advantageous to talk to a psychologist.
Many people will experience panic attack symptoms at some point in their life. There is no shame in experiencing a panic attack, whether it be for the first time or the tenth. Symptoms are relatively manageable and, with some lifestyle changes, may be able to be avoided.