What are panic attacks?
At The FORD Counselling and Psychotherapy Centre, many members of the community approach us for help with panic attacks. Here is some advice on how to identify and deal with them.
A panic attack is when someone is suddenly overcome with feelings of terror or anxiety in a situation where most people would feel safe. It often begins with a sudden, growing feeling of distress and fear. Then sufferers begin to panic. Although panic attacks aren’t life threatening, sufferers can feel they are losing control or dying.
Symptoms of panic attacks
During panic attacks, sufferers can experience some of these symptoms:
- A sense of impending doom
- Shortness of breath
- Pounding heart
- Feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
- Numb or tingling fingers
- Tightness in the chest
- A sensation of unreality
- Blurred vision
- Muscle tension
What causes panic attacks?
Panic attacks don’t come completely out of the blue. They usually occur when someone is ill, stressed, tired or feeling worn out. Many things can trigger an attack, but some common causes are stress, anxiety and phobias.
It is unusual to suffer a panic attack if you genuinely feel safe and secure. Someone who suffers panic attacks frequently - or is often fearful of one happening - may have panic disorder.
What to do when panic attacks occur
Few people suffer panic attacks frequently but if you feel an attack coming on, you should breathe in and out slowly - counting to three each time - until you begin to feel calm. Remind yourself that panic attacks aren’t life threatening. The purpose of this is to return your autonomic nervous system to self-regulation within the window of tolerance.
Need help coping with panic attacks
Panic attacks can negatively impact people’s day-to-day lives. At the FORD Counselling and Psychotherapy Centre, our professional therapists provide a safe environment where you can discuss your panic attacks. They will help you identify the cause, modulate arousal through self-regulation, leading to a reduction of symptoms and stabilisation.