May 4, 2012

Surviving a panic attack when it happens

It is said that one might forget the angst that happens during a panic attack, but that the body never forgets. The muscles in the body remember the pain and the fear as you struggle to overcome it. It is the same for every attack. The anxiety and fear spins out of control and you think you are going to collapse in the middle of the street and pass out. You feel weak and dizzy. Your heart beats at a phenomenal rate, you have difficulty swallowing. The attack has you in its grip as your heart races and you think you are going to die. The first thing you immediately have to tell yourself is that you are not going to die and that you have had these attacks before and survived.

How it starts

Usually a panic attack starts when you are under stress, or when someone dies, or you fear something; there are many reasons for an attack. You can be naturally fearful and anxious and worry too much about things. What happens is you feel suddenly weird for no reason at all. You notice an increase in your heart rate. Your hands feel sweaty. You perspire. Your breathing is out of control. You panic. The first thing you have to tell yourself is that you are NOT going to die. You have to focus on that one thought. This writer has already fainted in a public place due to fear, and as recently as a few months ago panicked in the underground section of the airport when it was difficult to push the trolley up the ramp. A friend was with me. I was heaving over the trolley holding onto him so as not to drop to the ground. He acted as if nothing was happening. He told me to remain where I was and fetched a bottle of water. We stayed at the airport until I was feeling better, and got into a taxi and came home. The best thing the friend did was to ignore my panic and keep calm. His calmness calmed me.

What you can do

What you have to remember during an attack is that you are not going to die, and focus on your breathing by taking long slow breaths and exhaling slowly. Push everything out of your mind and just do this for ten minutes. Your heavy breathing will stop. Your heartbeat will normalize. Have sips of water in between. Sometimes the panic is also eased when you go to the toilet. If you have survived these attacks in the past you know that you should try to aim for a less stressful life. Anxiety comes as a result of stress. Don’t take pills and get your body used to medication. You should see someone for your anxiety and look for natural remedies to keep calm.

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