Panic attacks can occur at any time or place without a definite cause but panic attacks are brought on by great and overwhelming fear and anxiety. Panic attacks can be unpredictable therefore handling them is somewhat difficult.
When a panic attack occurs, the person may become somewhat paralysed, feel disoriented and their physical symptoms include sweating, nausea, a rapid heartbeat and increased breathing rate. They often feel “out of control” and helpless, with an urgent feeling of having to run away but being unable to do so.
They may mistakenly think a certain place or social situation is the cause of it but this is usually just a trigger for an underlying anxiety. The body mistakes this anxiety as a physical and life-threatening situation and responds as such – by trying to get away from the perceived threat. However, the struggle to get out of that particular situation can even further worsen the condition.
Regular panic attacks can be quite disabling as it may prevent someone from participating in social gatherings, being in a lecture theatre or taking a train to work. But this is only if you do not know how to manage and prevent them. Yes! There are ways to prevent such occurrence or lessen the effects.
The first thing that needs to be done is to learn and practise some breathing or relaxation techniques. When a person feels like there might be an attack coming, it is best to maintain a regular breathing pattern. During a panic attack, there is a tendency to hyperventilate and gasp for air.
This is because the body's interpretation and response is exactly as if your very life is being threatened, therefore it is somewhat like a survival instinct. Sometimes breathing several times in and out using a paper bag is advocated to assist with regulating the breath. When you hyperventilate, there is an accumulation of too much oxygen which is bad because you lose the balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen.
Carbon dioxide plays an important role in breathing. It serves as the driving force for you to breathe, a signal that you need to inhale oxygen again. Too much oxygen leads to the decrease in the driving force of breathing, and contributes to a physical form of panic that your body is forgetting to breathe by itself.
Here are other things that could help: