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Dealing With Anxiety And Panic Attacks

15 March 2015

Today I wanted to talk about something that is not often discussed. As you can see from the title of this post, the topic I'm talking about is anxiety and panic attacks.

The definition of a panic attack is "a sudden onset of intense anxiety or terror without any obvious threat. It is a misfiring of the so called “fight flight or freeze” adrenalin reaction." If you've never experienced a panic attack, it is a very hard feeling/experience to describe. 

One of my first panic attacks happened on the Luas (Dublin's tram system) on the way home from seeing Muse in concert with my Dad. The Luas was very crowded, like the London Underground would be at rush hour, and I was squashed up against the door. I suddenly started to feel my chest constricting, as if a giant hand was physically squeezing me and I was very dizzy and short of breath. As this wasn't the first panic attack I'd had, I had a fair idea of what was going on and I tried to steady my breathing, taking long deep breaths in and out which helps a lot. I also looked down at my feet, and at all the space I had around them, as it wasn't as crowded on the floor. Eventually I calmed down but it wasn't a nice experience. 

Some panic attacks are worse than others but it's important to remember to breathe. The list below are some tips and things to remember when you are having a panic attack:

One. 
Take long deep breaths in and out. Controlling your breathing will help you calm down.

Two. 
Look up or out at the sky, or close your eyes. Focusing on something other than panic you are feeling is very effective.

Three.
Recognise what's happening and talk yourself through it, be it out loud or mentally. Trying to fight off what's happening can actually cause you to panic even more, so just go with it.

Four.
If it's possible, remove yourself from whatever situation or place that caused you to have a panic attack. Going for a walk will relax you and and help you feel more in control.

Anxiety and panic attacks don't always go hand in hand, some people can suffer from anxiety but not from panic attacks and vice versa. However, panic attacks often stem from anxiety people have. Which brings me to tip number Five, face your fears and identify what is most likely going to cause you to panic. By doing this you gain some sort of control over the situation and the next time the onset of a panic attack starts, you can be prepared.

Since recognising and understanding my triggers and using the five steps above, I now rarely feel anxious and my panic attacks have reduced substantially.

I really hope this post has been helpful.
What tips or tricks do you have for dealing with panic attacks? Let me know in the comments. Thanks so much for reading!



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