What is it Like to Have a Panic Attack?

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

man breathing into hands

Racing heart. Feeling weak. A deep sense of terror, and you’re having breathing difficulties. These are just a few clear symptoms of have a panic attack –  they’re not fun by any means, but they are manageable. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness, with panic attacks being a likely scenario for many. If you’ve never had a panic attack before, or you think you may have had one, here is a short excerpt from an experience someone shared on Buzzfeed:

It feels as if the world is rushing at me. Noises become very pronounced and it makes my head swim. Sometimes I can find it difficult to focus, sometimes I feel disoriented. My heart rate soars and I become very aware of my breathing”.

Panic attacks may vary slightly from person to person, but the underlying feelings of fear are there. You may have experienced racing thoughts while you’re hyperventilating, and while it may seem like the end of the world, it’s not. In reality, panic attacks do not last as long as people think they do. Some individuals have random panic attacks but can continue to live their lives normally afterwards – if you’ve had at least 2 panic attacks and you’ve made changes to your lifestyle in attempts to avoid experiencing them again, you may have panic disorder.

If you’re in the midst of a panic attack, there are several steps you take to find some relief. Everyday Health states that recognizing moments where we are allowing ourselves to spiral due to catastrophic thinking is a great first step to taking control over the situation. Once we’ve recognized where we’re at with this, we can practice a few simple things:

  • Breathing slowly and counting breaths
  • Telling yourself “stop” either in your head or aloud
  • Thinking positively about the situation and about your ability to control your panic
  • Leaving a situation or place if you need to
  • Focus on relaxing each muscle in your body

The more we learn about ourselves and what triggers us, the greater the control we have over preventing and managing panic attacks.



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