In the whirlwind of life, occasional stress is a common companion. Yet, for some, stress can escalate into a storm of overwhelming panic. At Glen Oaks Hospital, we recognize the impact of panic attacks and the importance of equipping individuals with tools to manage them effectively.

Defining Panic Attacks

  1. Sudden Onset:
    • A panic attack is an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort that arises suddenly and reaches its peak within minutes.
  2. Physical and Emotional Symptoms:
    • Panic attacks manifest with a combination of physical and emotional symptoms. These may include rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, trembling, sweating, chest pain and a sense of impending doom.
  3. Not Always Predictable:
    • Panic attacks are not always predictable and can occur without an apparent trigger. They can happen in various situations, making the experience even more challenging.

Understanding Triggers and Common Causes

  1. Stress and Anxiety:
    • High levels of stress or anxiety are common triggers for panic attacks. Individuals with anxiety disorders may be more prone to experiencing them.
  2. Phobias or Trauma:
    • Specific phobias or past traumatic experiences can contribute to the occurrence of panic attacks.
  3. Genetics and Biology:
    • Genetic and biological factors may play a role in predisposing individuals to panic attacks.

Strategies for Managing Panic Attacks

  1. Deep Breathing:
    • Practice deep breathing exercises to help regulate your breath and calm your nervous system. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds and exhale slowly through your mouth.
  2. Grounding Techniques:
    • Ground yourself in the present moment by focusing on your senses. Identify and name things you can see, touch, hear and smell around you.
  3. Mindfulness Meditation:
    • Engage in mindfulness meditation to bring your attention to the present moment. Mindfulness can help break the cycle of anxious thoughts.
  4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR):
    • PMR involves tensing and then gradually releasing different muscle groups to reduce physical tension and promote relaxation.
  5. Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques (CBT):
    • CBT is a therapeutic approach that helps identify and challenge negative thought patterns contributing to panic attacks. Working with a therapist can provide valuable tools for managing anxiety.
  6. Regular Exercise:
    • Engage in regular physical activity, as exercise is known to reduce stress and anxiety. Choose activities you enjoy, whether it’s walking, jogging, yoga or dancing.
  7. Create a Safe Space:
    • Identify a safe space where you can retreat during a panic attack. Having a designated calming environment can provide a sense of security.
  8. Connect with Support:
    • Reach out to friends, family, or a mental health professional for support. Talking about your experiences can alleviate feelings of isolation.

When to Seek Professional Help

  1. Frequent or Severe Attacks:
    • If panic attacks occur frequently or are severe, seeking professional help is crucial.
  2. Impact on Daily Life:
    • If panic attacks significantly impact your daily functioning, relationships, or quality of life, professional intervention can provide tailored support.
  3. Underlying Mental Health Conditions:
    • If panic attacks are associated with underlying mental health conditions, such as panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, specialized treatment may be necessary.

A Path to Calm

Understanding and managing panic attacks involves a combination of self-awareness, coping strategies and, when needed, professional guidance.

At Glen Oaks Hospital, we emphasize the importance of mental health support and provide resources to empower individuals on their journey to well-being. Remember, you have the strength to weather the storm, and healing is a collaborative process.