What is a panic attack?

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Everyone talks about having panic attacks . You’ve either seen someone have one , heard of someone having one or you have experienced one yourself .
But what is a panic attack ?

It’s a rush of intense psychological and physical symptoms.
They can be very frightening and happen out of the blue, for no known reason .

They usually last between five and twenty minutes and although they’re horrible, they aren’t dangerous .

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The physical symptoms of panic can be ;

A sensation that your heart is beating irregularly (palpitations)

Sweating 

Trembling

Shortness of breath (hyperventilation) 

A choking sensation

Chest pain 

Feeling sick 

These are caused by your body going into “fight or flight” mode .
Your body tends to think that you’re under threat , hense the sense of panic .

As your body tries to take in more oxygen your breathing gets faster. Your body releases hormones, like adrenaline, which causes your heart to beat faster and your muscles to tense up.

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How can you help relieve these symptoms ?

There are a few different things you can try .

To help slow down your breathing and heart rate . You could try these simple steps .

Breathe in deeply through your nose.

Breathe out slowly through your mouth. 

Focus your thinking on the word “calm”.

Keep calm and focus on your breathing .
As you slowly start to feel your breathing getting back to normal,  you can go to feel a little tired . This is normal though.  It means your carbon dioxide levels in your blood , have returned to normal. 

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Should you see a doctor about panic attacks ?

Although panic attacks aren’t dangerous themselves . It is always a good idea to seek medical advice .
Panic attacks can be brought on due to an underlining issue .

**** Seek medical advice if:

Your panic attack continues after following these breathing techniques for 20 minutes.

You still feel unwell after your breathing returns to normal.

You still have a rapid or irregular heartbeat or chest pains after your panic attack. 

You regularly have panic attacks, as this could be a sign that you have panic disorder. ****

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Can panic attacks be avoided ?

Some people find that relaxation techniques do help prevent panic attacks . Eg. Meditation , deep breathing , muscle stretches .

Eating regularly can help as it stabilises your blood sugars .

Avoiding alcohol,  caffeine and smoking can also help .

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