Many of us feel times of panic and anxiety; they are normal human feelings when in a threatening or difficult situation. However, if this panic anxiety remains at a high level it can become so severe it is difficult to deal with everyday life, you may feel out of control or experience a panic attack.
A panic attack is an exaggeration of the normal response to fear, stress or excitement. It is the rapid build-up of overwhelming sensations, such as a pounding heartbeat, feeling faint, sweating, nausea, chest pains, breathing discomfort, feelings of losing control, shaky limbs and legs turning to jelly.
You may fear that you are going to black out, have a heart attack or convinced you are going to die – making this a terrifying experience. If you experience these symptoms and feelings it is time to ask for treatment.
Our treatment approach for panic attacks
Our approach to treating panic attacks combines individualised programmes with treatments based on current clinical evidence. There are two types of treatment for panic attacks:
Psychotherapy or counselling can help you understand, come to terms with and find strategies to overcome your panic attacks, CBT can help you learn more positive emotional and behavioural responses to situations and feelings and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy can make you more aware and mindful of what you’re experiencing.
Medication can also be effective for panic attacks. It may help you to feel less anxious and cope better so that you can start to enjoy life and deal with problems effectively again.
Treatment for panic attacks tailored to you
Treatment for panic attacks at Nightingale Hospital in London can be as an outpatient, day patient or inpatient. We have the expertise to approach the support and treatment we offer you for your panic attacks in a personal and flexible way to benefit you the most in your recovery.
Tips to prevent panic attacks
- Try and reduce your exposure to stressful situations.
- Express your needs. Find someone to confide in, such as a family member, friend or counsellor so you do not bottle up emotions.
- Try and make lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, avoiding stimulants such as cigarettes and alcohol, eating regular meals and avoiding processed foods and drinks to keep blood sugar levels stable.
- Look into cognitive behaviour therapy, talking treatments, self-help books or research anxiety management courses to help you develop coping strategies.
- Support groups can allow you to share feelings and discuss strategies.
- Try not to depend on others for reassurance. It’s better to rely on yourself and your own coping strategies. Tell yourself you are fine, not dying or going mad.
- Breathe from your diaphragm. With hands on stomach, slowly breathe in through your nose while counting to four. Your stomach should rise. Breathe out, to a count of four, and your stomach should collapse.
- Learn relaxation techniques.
- Focus on the positive. If you feel an attack coming on try to distract yourself with positive thoughts and tasks.
- Accept and face your feelings during an attack. They will become less intense.
For more information visit www.mind.org.uk
- Dr Hannelie Fourie View profile
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