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Are You Having a Panic Attack?

Are You Having a Panic Attack?

If you suffer from anxiety, chances are you’ve experienced a panic or anxiety attack at least once in your life. Even if you don’t suffer from anxiety, you can still experience panic attacks or anxiety attacks. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a panic attack is “the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes.” Anxiety attacks however, are different from panic attacks. Panic attacks are usually more intense, and come on out of the blue whereas anxiety attacks are usually caused by a trigger. Symptoms of panic attacks include

  • racing and pounding heartbeat
  • chest pain
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • hot flashes or chills
  • nausea
  • numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • shaking
  • shortness of breath
  • the feeling of being choked or smothered
  • stomach pain 
  • sweating

Anxiety attacks usually come on after a period of excessive worry or anxiousness and are usually caused by a trigger but aren’t as intense as panic attacks. Anxiety attacks can also last anywhere from hours to days, weeks or even months. Symptoms of anxiety attacks include:

  • being easily startled
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth or fatigue
  • fear
  • irritability
  • loss of concentration
  • muscle pain or numbness
  • rapid heart rate
  • restlessness
  • shortness of breath
  • disturbed sleep
  • worry or stress

People who are experiencing a panic or anxiety attack might also feel a loss of control or like they’re going crazy, have a sudden fear or feeling they might die, or can feel detached from themselves or their surroundings. Panic attacks normally peak after 10 minutes and then gradually subside. While experiencing a panic or attack, getting a firm grasp on your breathing is the best way to bring yourself down from it. Take a slow breath in through your nose for five seconds, hold it for four seconds, and then exhale for five seconds-repeat this until your breathing returns to normal. If you’re someone who experiences feeling detached, try grounding yourself by finding 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Other things that can help include learning your anxiety triggers and managing or limiting exposure. Exercise, meditation, repeating a mantra, picturing a happy place or progressive muscle relaxation have also been shown to help anxiety and panic attacks subside.

Therapy can also be beneficial if you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks. Talking to someone else can be helpful for identifying triggers and developing coping mechanisms. We’re currently utilizing our online Telehealth services and are able to serve all of North Carolina! For more information about Telehealth or to request an appointment, head to our website.