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Dealing with Panic Attacks

Posted Jan 17 2010 2:34pm

Dealing with panic attacks is extremely challenging because of the intense nature of the experience. Those who have had a panicked episode knows the physical effects of a panic attack on the body is overwhelming. The intensity of the symptoms makes the emotional panicked response increase.

What Causes Panic Attacks

Fear is a powerful emotional element that is designed to protect you from harm. Sometimes fear goes rampant, creating a feeling of panic when there is no real immediate threat. This may occur through the realm of the subconscious mind, making attacks unpredictable.

Anxiety and stress play key roles in the development of panic attacks. A person may have considerable anxiety in the subconscious mind. This is the part of the brain that causes automatic physical responses to occur. Even though the process is automatic, it is controllable.

Physical Responses

The physical symptoms of panic attacks are easily recognized by anyone who has ever had one in the past. Those having their first episodes may think that they are having a heart attack or other serious medical problem. The intensity of the physical symptoms are as follows:

• Sweating
• Pounding heart
• Racing thoughts
• Dizziness
• Feeling faint
• Weakness in knees
• Heart palpitations
• Difficulty breathing
• Overwhelming feeling of dread
• Chest pain

Panicked Cycle

Breaking the automatic cycle of fear, physical response and panic is a viable option that requires practice. In many cases, panic attacks disappear as quickly as they appear, but the few moments of the episode can seem to last forever. Following are natural ways to break the panicked cycle as you feel an episode coming on.

How to Deal with a Panic Attack

Control is an important factor in panicked episodes and you do have the ability to gain control of the process. Many use cognitive therapy and some combine this therapeutic approach with hypnosis or visualizations for optimal results. Hypnosis and visualizations are ideal because the engage the subconscious mind.

Steps to take when you feel a panic attack coming on include:

1. Breathing exercises can help you take control of the automatic physical response. Just by taking control of your breaths, you begin to take the reins on the episode.
2. Use your mind. Uncontrolled thoughts can be overwhelming. Take a moment to stop the process and redirect your thinking patterns.
3. Positive thinking patterns can be difficult to develop in the midst of a panic attack, but it is helpful to move your thoughts into positive patterns. Thoughts can include your ability to control your emotions with an image of you doing so vividly present in your mind.
4. Notice the tension in your muscles and take control of it. This requires you to tense your muscles voluntarily, followed by releasing the tension.

It is important to take time away from emotionally charged situations. If something is upsetting you, walk away for a moment, and allow yourself to process the emotions. Just as you trained yourself to have panic attacks, you can train yourself to avoid them.

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