By Dave Tishendorf
If you have ever suffered a panic attack, you know what a frightening experience it is.
Victims of panic attacks often describe the experience as having a feeling they are going mad, or are dying. But these victims may not be aware why the attacks occur, and they may even wonder what a panic attack actually is.
How can you stop from getting panic attacks? The good news is that help for dealing with these attacks is available.
A panic attack is a very sudden but discrete period of intense anxiety. An attack can strike at any time, and most of the time these attacks have no obvious triggers.
To an outsider, these attacks can appear to be random, but more often than not they stem from a wide variety of causes, including heredity, phobias and medication.
Someone who has had a bad experience with water, for example, may become extremely frightened when in or around water, and this fear can build and ultimately result in a panic attack.
The symptoms of a panic attack often can be mistaken for other issues. First-time sufferers, for example, often believe they are having a heart attack.
As reasons for a panic attack differ with each person, so do the symptoms each sufferer may have.
These symptoms can include one or more of the following:
** Hot flashes
** Shortness of breath
** Feeling dizzy or faint
** Feeling of being detached from oneself
** Heart palpitations
** Chest pains
When experiencing a panic attack, you will more than likely over-breathe, or hyperventilate.
It is important when struggling with your breath to resist over-breathing, as exhaling too much carbon dioxide will change the acidity of your blood.
This change in blood acidity can result in confusion and cramps and can worsen heart palpitations. All of this makes the experience more terrifying and affects your breathing even more, thus creating a vicious circle.
Chest pains and heart palpitations are the obvious reasons that panic attacks are often confused with heart attacks, particularly in first-time sufferers. But victims should be aware that these symptoms don't necessarily mean you are having heart problems. The reason for the symptoms is simply that the nervous impulses from your brain to various parts of your body are in overdrive during an attack, which often results in odd feelings in your chest.
If you suffer from panic attacks or have ever experienced one, there is no need to be embarrassed. Records show 1 in 10 people will experience an occasional panic attack, and these tend to occur mostly in young adults, with attacks being twice as likely in women as in men.
Actually, these attacks can occur in absolutely anybody, but in most cases sufferers will usually have a family member who also experiences attacks.
If you are unsure of how to stop your anxiety attacks, you first need to be in control of yourself and not allow the attack to take over. Granted, that may be easier said than done. But you should try to breathe as slowly and deeply as you can, concentrating hard on each breath you take.
A good way to help you do this is to breathe into a paper bag, which allows you to breathe in your own carbon dioxide, thus correcting the blood acid level in your system. This is one of the most important things you can do to help with your attack as it will decrease the chances of any symptoms worsening.
You should also remember that any physical symptoms you experience are in no way related to any serious diseases. For many, worrying about this factor is often the reason for their symptoms worsening.
Don't let your panic attacks leave you worried about the next one. These attacks are more common now than ever, and by understanding the causes of your attack and how you can help lessen your symptoms, you will be well on your way to helping yourself in the long run and potentially lessening the number of attacks you have.
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