You feel anxious, sweaty, nauseated, dizzy, or shaky. You are out of breath and may have pain in your chest or numbness in your hands or feet. It can feel like something is really, really wrong or like you are going to die. Could this be a panic attack?
Panic attacks are usually very sudden and have seemingly severe and unnerving symptoms. They occur more often in people with a history of anxiety but can also be a product of stressful life situations (such as COVID-19). Panic attacks can also happen in response to a traumatic event or triggers that remind someone of a trauma. They are a completely normal response to overwhelming stress or anxiety but can be very disruptive to a person"s day to day life.
When you are having a panic attack the body physically responds with a rush of adrenaline, as though you are ready to fight a bear or run away from a lion. The high levels of adrenaline can make you feel shaky, nauseated, anxious, and sweaty. In response to anxiety and adrenaline we often breathe more quickly and shallower, beginning to hyperventilate. This hyperventilation can cause dizziness and cause poor blood flow to the hands and feet leading to numbness or tingling. It can be useful to know that, while a panic attack may feel like a medical emergency, these symptoms are just your body"s response to intense stress and can be managed and reduced.
At Haven Health & Wellness we work to support your body"s ability to cope with stress and regulate anxiety to help prevent getting to the level of a panic attack and reduce the frequency/severity of panic attacks. When you do experience panic attacks there are also many natural supplements, homeopathic remedies, and mindfulness exercises that can be helpful in the moment to help you bring yourself back to center and get grounded. One of my personal favorites is the 5-4-3-2-1 meditation. In this exercise you notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch/feel, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. When you are starting to have a panic attack taking a second to focus on your five senses helps you return to the present moment and be grounded in your body, rather than stuck in your own head or reliving the past. This meditation is excellent for PTSD flashbacks and panic attacks triggered by trauma as well, as it helps your body to realize that it is here, now (not back in the traumatic event). Next time you start to feel a spike of anxiety or any of the physical symptoms of a panic attack give this meditation a try or feel free to reach out to me for some more personalized treatment options.
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