Getting a grip on panic attacks

Carmen BryceBlog posts

Here at MyMind, we know that stress and anxiety are things that affect people every day of the week, whether resulting from particular situations and experiences, or just day to day life.

Quite commonly, these feelings of extreme stress or extreme anxiety can cause panic attacks. Recent research, conducted by Psychiatric Epidemiology Research across the Lifespan Group, have found that approximately one in eight young adolescents had experience of an anxiety disorder.

A panic attack can be described as a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. These episodes can occur at any time, even during sleep. They are generally brief, lasting less than 10 minutes, but some of the symptoms may persist for a longer time.

A panic attack may be a one-time occurrence, but many people experience repeat episodes. Recurrent panic attacks can be triggered by a specific situation, such as crossing a bridge or speaking in public—especially if that situation has caused a panic attack before, but can also occur completely at random.

Usually, the panic-inducing situation is one in which you feel endangered and unable to escape. If this is a situation you find yourself in, it may be advisable to seek out a service such as MyMind, who can offer you support and help you to overcome your panic attacks.  

Some of the symptoms of panic attacks include racing heart, feeling weak, faint or dizzy, tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers, a sense of terror, or impending doom or death, feeling sweaty or having chills, chest pains, breathing difficulties and feeling a loss of control. Many people who have had panic attacks will say that before realizing it was a panic attack, they thought they were having a heart-attack.

Furthermore, people who suffer from panic disorders are likely to develop other, or more severe psychological issues, which according to Dr Mark Smyth, is due to an absence of primary care to help intervene. This does not have to be the case though. At MyMind, our clients usually have their first session with a therapist within 72 hours of first contacting us.

There is currently no specific genetic cause of panic attacks, and are generally the result of stress, anxiety, phobias, and emotional worries.

One of the most popular treatments for panic attacks is therapy. CBT, exposure therapy and hypnotherapy are some examples of treatments for panic attacks which are provided by the experienced therapists in MyMind.

Lifestyle changes such as cutting back on caffeine, exercising, and deep breathing exercises may also help. Our therapists have also suggested that you can overcome panic attacks by training yourself to respond to panic in accepting and calm ways including learning to control your breathing, practice relaxation techniques, connecting face-to-face with family and friends, regular exercise, and enough restful sleep.  

If you are experiencing panic attacks, we can help. To book an appointment see mymind.org or contact our office team at hq@mymind.org or by calling 076 680 1060.