Panic attacks can occur during extreme anxiety when a feeling of fear suddenly takes over.
1 in 3 people have them at some point in their lives.
Symptoms can include
• rapid breathing
• going hot or cold
• feeling dizzy or sick
• shivering or shaking
• racing or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
• a strong desire to get out, and anger if this is impossible.
A panic attack can be frightening and can make a person feel as if they are having a heart attack or ‘going mad’. This can make anxiety worse and cause hyperventilation (over-breathing). In turn this makes symptoms worse.
Top tips during a panic attack
• Try to slow down your breathing
• Breathe into cupped hands or a paper bag (this helps to restore the balance of gases in your bloodstream) – not too deeply.
• If possible remove yourself to a private space to calm down
• Practice relaxation techniques
• Tell yourself that you are having a panic attack and you’re going to be OK.
• Think positive, assertive thoughts
Panic attacks can be very unpleasant and cause a person to avoid certain situations to try to prevent them happening again. However avoiding situations can make fear worse and turn into a phobia.
• Make an appointment with your GP (it is important to register with a Nottingham GP ) who will be able to rule out medical causes or look at treatment options and referral to specialist services if appropriate
• The University Counselling Service offer one-to-one and group therapy and workshop sessions. They also produce a booklet, Dealing with Anxiety and Panic Attacks.
MIND, the mental health charity.
The Mental Health Foundation.
Visit Anxiety UK, the national charity helping people who experience anxiety disorders.
Wikihow have a webpage on how to calm yourself during a panic attack.
HelpGuide's webpage on panic attacks.
Source: Mind; Mental Health Foundation; Anxiety UK; University of Nottingham Counselling Service