“I think I’m losing my mind,” the woman said. “My body seems to be out of control. I feel shaky, I’m sweating, I can’t breathe, and even though I want to run out of the place, I can’t move my legs.”
Panic Attacks affect many people of both sexes, all ages and from every background. They can come on without warning at any time, and the impact can leave those who experience them afraid to leave their homes, for fear they’ll strike again. They can vary in their severity and in the symptoms, but commonly include some of the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Racing or thumping heart,
- Discomfort or pain in the chest
- Sensations of choking or smothering
- Wobbly or unsteady legs, dizziness or faintness
- Tingling numbness or pins and needles in the arms or legs
- Blurring or double vision
- A queasy knot in the stomach, or a desire to vomit
- Trembling or shaking
- Waves of heat or cold passing over the body, or profuse sweating
- Fear of dying
- A fear of losing control or of going crazy
Not every one experiences all of these. Check with your doctor to ensure that there’s no other underlying reason for what you’re experiencing.
The symptoms of panic can last for between five and twenty minutes, though there can also be a feeling of anxiety for some time before and after the attack itself. Some people experience them frequently, while others have one or two and then never experience them again.
The following can be helpful in learning to manage and control panic:
- Breathing: Probably more than anything else you do, breathing slowly, calmly and deeply lessens the panic feelings.
- Meditation: Meditation and other similar practices can help you to still the thoughts that spiral out of control before, during and after a panic attack.
- Learning your own symptoms, and to recognise what triggers an attack for you, and the signs of onset of an attack, can help you to learn to interrupt the process before it escalates out of control.
- If you have severe symptoms, or if taking action yourself hasn’t resulted in any improvement of your symptoms, you may wish to seek professional help.
Note: If you are suffering from panic, or are experiencing some of the symptoms outlined above, check with your doctor for a formal diagnosis before taking any action.