Rule number one: stay calm. Image via iStock
It doesn’t matter whether it’s the first time or the fiftieth, panic attacks can be extremely scary.
Beyond Blue estimates that approximately 40 per cent of the population will experience a panic attack at some stage in their lives, while five per cent of Australians will suffer from recurrent panic attacks, known as panic disorder.
When there’s no warning, it can be frightening for both you and those around you to deal with. However, there is a way tackle them.
Yuliya Richard, a psychologist at Blue Horizon Counselling, believes that learning to recognise the symptoms and preparing a plan is the best way to cope.
According to Richard, there are many symptoms that signal you might be having a panic attack.
They could happen individually, or all at once.
Know the symptoms.
- Legs turning to jelly
- Feeling breathless or as though you are choking
- Feeling restless
- Sweating, shivering or trembling
- Wanting to run but not being able to
- Racing heart or heart palpitations
- Dizziness, disorientation and a lightheaded feeling
- Feeling nauseous
- Experiencing a feeling of dread
- Thinking “I am going to die” or “I am going crazy”.
During a typical attack, you may experience a range of these strong physical sensations as well as fearful or scared thoughts. (Post continues after gallery.)
“Because such attacks often feel like they happened out of the blue, people usually start to worry about it happening again unexpectedly and so feel very stressed out,” she says.
The first step in managing a panic attack is acceptance. Panic attacks are not discriminatory – they can happen to anyone, regardless of how healthy or successful you are.
“First, obtain medical clearance from your doctor that there are no underlying medical conditions,” Richard says.
“Realise that you do not have to continue suffering from panic attacks. Acceptance does not mean surrender, it only means that you recognise what you are dealing with and that you will take steps to deal with this issue,” she says.
2. Inform yourself
Richard says it's extremely important to learn about panic attacks and what happens to your body when you experience them.