A panic attack can be frightening and can happen for no apparent reason and without warning. It’s a sudden onset of anxiety with associated physical symptoms.
Although not serious, the fear of having another panic attack can be very debilitating and it is important to get help so you can prevent future attacks.
A panic attack is a very sudden onset of fear or anxiety that quickly brings about several physical symptoms such as sweating, racing heartbeat (palpitations), hyperventilation, choking, dizziness, feeling sickness, numb or tingling fingers and often a strong feeling you are about to die.
A panic attack gives real and frightening symptoms, and usually lasts less than half an hour, with symptoms reducing in severity after no more than 10 minutes.
These frightening symptoms of a panic attack are caused by your body going into “fight or flight” mode.
Your body tries to rapidly take in more oxygen for your arms (to fight) and your legs (to run away). This makes your breathing get quicker and can cause hyperventilation. Your heart beats quicker and your muscles tense up.
Oxygen is removed from other areas of the body such as the stomach – giving rise to nausea.
The often experienced ‘fear of dying’ may be because these symptoms mimic other serious conditions such as a heart attack. If you still feel unwell after 20 minutes of slow breathing, you should get medical help in case this is more than a panic attack.
The advice for dealing with a panic attack is to focus on trying to slow down your breathing and breathe in and out as slowly and deeply as you can.
Afterwards, you need to rest and then consider ways of preventing these panic attacks in future. This is important to prevent you becoming worried and anxious about having more panic attacks.
There are two complementary approaches to preventing panic attacks – adjusting your lifestyle to reduce the numbers of triggers you experience, and getting to help to prevent any triggers from developing into intense fear or anxiety.
Lifestyle changes that reduce panic attack include regular exercise, regular breathing exercises, healthy meals and avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
Counselling or therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) help you identify and change any negative thought patterns that produce the panic attack.
CBT is recognised as the most effective treatment for preventing panic attacks. There are online courses and self-help materials available for this, and some find this a good place to start. Many who suffer from panic attacks struggle with self-help material and benefit from a real person to speak with and provide incentives and feedback.
Mynurva provides qualified counsellors who can help you to prevent future panic attacks. They will help you identify the thought patterns and triggers of your panic attacks and help you develop coping mechanisms to change any negative thought patterns before they develop into a panic attack.
Our counselling is confidential and private – you can have this from the privacy of your own home and do not need to go to a health centre or visit your GP. We provide appointments at different times of the day or night, weekday or weekend so you do not need to take time off work or let your employer know you are seeking help.
The recommendation for CBT is a course of 6 sessions as this gives a chance to put into practice what you have learnt with ongoing support. Mynurva provides a discounted package of 6 sessions of counselling but you are free to purchase as many or as few as you like. It is possible to start weekly and then reduce frequency once you feel more in control of your panic attacks.
Mynurva provides you with the ability to stop panic attacks. And we give you the confidence to do what you want to do and not be restricted through fear of having another panic attack.