Panic attacks can be scary, especially since they often come on suddenly and with no warning. There is not a definitive cause for the attacks, which can be debilitating for those that suffer from them. That’s why knowing how to prevent a panic attack can be so helpful.
What Qualifies as a Panic Attack?
Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are in the same category, but they aren’t the same thing. An anxiety attack is shorter, often results from a reaction to stress, goes away when the stressor does, and the physical symptoms don’t feel like they’ll lead to death, even if you get short of breath.
With a panic attack, you experience many more physical symptoms and more intensely. You will be overcome with fear and often feel like you’re losing control or that you’re going to die. Panic attacks can lead to a fear of more, causing anticipatory anxiety.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 2-3% of Americans suffer from panic attacks in any given year. It’s twice as common in women as men and part of a larger epidemic of the over 6 million Americans that suffer from panic attacks and panic disorders, both anxiety disorders.
Signs of a Panic Attack
Symptoms of a panic attack come on quicky and last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. It can happen at any time, and after the first one, you’ll begin to understand how they feel and possibly what may trigger them for you. The signs are:
- Racing heart, chest pain or discomfort, or heart palpitations
- Trembling, shaking, numbness, or tingling
- Feeling dizzy, light-headed, faint, or nauseous
- Shortness of breath, hyperventilation, or a choking feeling
- Sweating profusely or hot/cold flashes
- Feeling detached from your surrounds with possible fears of dying, losing control, or going crazy
How They Relate to Substance Abuse
Doctors haven’t found an exact cause for panic attacks, but certain things can make a person more likely to have one. Of those, substance abuse issues top the list. Whether it’s from an altered state of mind or similar physical symptoms, you’re more prone to having one if you abuse drugs or alcohol. Even going through detox can lead to panic attacks, so knowing how to prevent a panic attack is important.
Aside from avoiding alcohol, smoking, caffeine, and drugs, which can provoke panic attacks in susceptible people, you’ll also want to be careful with medicine that contains stimulants, including diet pills, cold medicines, and some prescription meds.
How to Prevent a Panic Attack
Learning how to prevent a panic attack is vital so that you don’t spiral, harm yourself or someone else, or let your physical symptoms get the best of you. There are several things you can do before, during, and after an attack to make life easier, but for now, let’s focus on preventing one. Here are five ways to do precisely that:
- Learn about panic and anxiety – education is your best line of defense
- Learn how to control your breathing – hyperventilation is the cause of many of the symptoms, and you can help calm yourself down when you start to feel anxious
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or calming exercise, all of which help reduce stress and calm the mind, which in turn helps the body remain calmer during anxiety-prone situations
- Get plenty of sleep – being sleep deprived can heighten your anxiousness or lead to getting anxious quicker
- Stay connected – isolation can worsen symptoms of anxiety, so keeping in touch with helpful, positive relationships can lessen these feelings
Sometimes panic attacks come on before you realize you’re feeling anxious at all. Doing the above can help you improve calming yourself. Also, they will teach you how to prevent a panic attack the more you practice them. But if you struggle to find ways to deal with anxiety or panic attacks, you can get more help. Try cognitive-behavioral therapy or exposure therapy or talk to your doctor about possible solutions such as medication.
If you deal with substance abuse, need detox, or to avoid medication, then Serenity House Detox Houston can help. Call them at 866.516.8356 to see how they can get you on the path to recovery.