Beating Anxiety Attacks
Anxiety attacks, or panic attacks, as they’re also known, are among the most frightening experiences that you can have.
People who’ve never experienced anxiety attacks often assume they’re just a fancy way of saying something’s scared you. Not so. Anxiety attacks are way more physical than simply feeling scared.
Typically, anxiety attacks strike without warning. You might be in a situation you perceive as dangerous when one kicks in… or you might be safe at home, watching the TV.
You may be aware of what’s provoked you to an attack of anxiety or panic – or you might not have a clue.
What you DO know is that of a sudden you feel as if you’re choking. You can’t breathe. Your chest feels tight, and maybe even painful. Your heart’s racing, and thumping so hard you feel as if everyone around can hear it.
You’re filled with the overwhelming desire to get away, to run as fast as you can away from this place or situation – but your legs won’t move. You HAVE to get away, and yet you can’t.
By this time, the anxiety attack is in full swing. You’re consumed by total panic. You may feel sick, or dizzy. You could be hot and sweating, or even cold and shivering.
Sounds can be distorted, and sometimes you can’t speak. You totally believe you’re going to die within the next 10 seconds… and as the symptoms of anxiety attacks so closely mimic those of a heart attack, that’s no surprise.
Fortunately, there’s GOOD news associated with anxiety attacks, too.
- Despite the terrifying way they feel, anxiety attacks usually do no lasting damage. You really WILL get through them (If the chest pains don’t go away after a few seconds of trying the treatment outlined below, though, do seek help. If anxiety attacks can mimic heart attacks, that can work the other way around, as as well.);
- Anxiety attacks are not necessarily related to a nervous breakdown or any form of mental illness – and they don’t have to be permanent. Usually, they’re simply triggered off by stress. Deal with the stress, and most anxiety attacks just disappear.
What Can Cause Anxiety Attacks?
Anxiety attacks are caused by basically anything that scares you.
That can be something current, or something in the past you haven’t yet let go.
When we get scared, the body releases vast quantities of adrenalin to give us the extra strength and power to deal with the threatening situation.
Originally that adrenalin was intended to power the fight-or-flight response which was enough to get most humans out of most threatening situations. For example, if you were in danger from a wild animal, your best response might be to stand your ground and fight – or run away as fast as possible.
If you’re more likely to be confronted by, for example, an angry boss than an outraged bear, neither hitting out nor running full-speed down the corridor might be the most appropriate response. That means that the social conventions that tell us we can’t do either of those things are in direct conflict with our built-in defense mechanism.
The result is stress.
Many times, that conflict, and the unused but still surging adrenalin that goes with it, will result in anxiety attacks.
How Can Anxiety Attacks Be Quickly Dealt With?
- First of all, acknowledge that you have them.
You don’t need tell the world if you don’t want to, but it’s important you acknowledge to yourself what’s happening.
Anxiety attacks are nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed about. Like any other stress-related difficulty, accepting that you have anxiety attacks is the first step towards eliminating them. You’ll probably feel an overwhelming sensation of relief.
- The key to controlling your thoughts and feelings, including the ones that trigger off anxiety attacks, lies in your breathing.
Anxiety attacks feed off shallow breathing. You can beat them by deep breathing.
In an anxiety attack you feel as if you can only breathe in short, sharp, even painful, bursts. In that case, just breathe OUT as far as you can. Consciously push every last molecule of air out of your lungs.
The automatic breathing reflex will immediately take over, and force you to take a long, deep breath back in.
Once that happens, just keep going, breathing as slowly and as deeply as you can.
Within a few breaths, the anxiety attack will fade and you’ll be back in control.
Don’t worry if your anxiety attacks leave you feeling very tired afterwards. You’ve just used up a tremendous amount of mental and emotional energy. That’s why anxiety attacks can leave you feeling drained.
If you have ready access to a rest room, go and soak your hands, and especially your wrists, in cool (not icy cold) water. You might also like to splash some on your face.
DON’T immediately drink a cup of coffee – it’s a good idea to give your body time to re-absorb the excess adrenalin before you take in extra caffeine.
It’s also a good idea to get some extra sleep so you can recharge your energy.
To Prevent Anxiety Attacks Recurring…
You need to get rid of whatever stress is causing them, because until you do the anxiety attacks will just keep coming back.
A good way to start is by checking out the page entitled Free Your Life From Stress.