Panic Attacks

Last night I suffered a panic attack. It was horrible and very scary.

I hadn't had this intense feeling for a very, very long time and I would say this was the worst one I have ever experienced, so as the panic kicked in I started searching the Internet for ways to deal with the horrible sensations I was feeling and I wanted to share with you how I eventually calmed myself down as this post may help someone one day.

What is a panic attack and what does it feel like?

"A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms: dizziness, shortness of breath/ hyperventilation, racing heart/palpitations, chest pain, trembling or shaking, feeling like you’re choking, feeling detached from your surroundings, sweating, nausea, numbness or tingling, fear of dying or losing control and hot or cold flashes."

I climbed into bed and suddenly felt a surge of heat throughout my body, my heart started to race intensely which made me panic and my throat felt like it was closing. I sat myself up and tried to breathe through it, but then my mind went off into a spiral of horrible thoughts - am I OK? Am I having a heart attack? Am I going to stop breathing? Who will know if I die? 

It's no secret that I have suffered with anxiety in the past and I have learnt coping strategies to deal with it, but yesterday it got out of control and this lead to the panic attack, something I haven't experienced this strongly for as long as I can remember.

So what did I do?

I called my fiancĂ© and he tried to calm me down, I panicked more and called 111 as I genuinely thought something was wrong with me but the number was receiving extremely high call volumes so I gathered my thoughts and decided not to stay on the line - I could do this, I could calm myself down.

RECOGNISE WHAT IS HAPPENING - The first thing I did was to recognise and accept I was having a panic attack, I wasn't having a heart attack and I wasn't dying - there was no real danger, just my thoughts and feelings which I could control. 

BREATHE - I took long deep breaths through my nose and out through my mouth (this can make you feel a little light headed and tired but it helps slow your heart rate).

DISTRACT YOURSELF - You can try reading, counting or putting on some music. I distracted myself with music, I found sitting and focusing on the symptoms made things worse.

GET COMFORTABLE - I tried sitting up in bed but then I would walk around a bit, do whatever makes you feel comfortable.

COMPANY - If possible, get someone to be with you, this will take away a large element of the fear, or speak to someone, let them know how you are feeling and talk to them for as long as you can.

It's an absolutely terrifying experience having a panic attack and different techniques work for different people so if you have experienced one and would like to share your tips for calming down then please leave them in the comments below - they may help someone one day.



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