Don’t panic! How to know when it’s creeping up on you

Your heart starts beating faster; you can’t catch your breath; your vision gets blurry. If you’ve ever experienced any of these symptoms, paired with feelings of overwhelming anxiety or a sudden surge of fear, then you’re probably familiar with panic attacks.

Panic attacks can occur out of the blue, without any warnings or triggers. It is possible to have an attack only once, but it’s more likely that a person will experience repeat episodes. You can have panic attacks, but otherwise be perfectly happy and healthy.

So how can you tell if you are about to have one? There are a few common symptoms that you can look out for:

  • Dry mouth­ – One of the more common symptoms during a panic attack. If you want to counter a dry mouth and attempt to manage the attack, try sipping on water or suck on a boiled sweet to stimulate the production of saliva.
  • Shaking and shivering – When your body temperature drops, the muscles spasmodically contract, creating friction between muscles and body tissues and increasing your body temperature. During an anxiety attack, shaking and shivering is normal.
  • Heart palpitations – These are also very common during panic attacks and are caused by the release of adrenaline into the bloodstream. You may feel like your heart is skipping beats. This is perfectly normal and won’t cause any physical damage.
  • Body pain – Feeling pain in your neck, shoulders, chest, jaw, mouth and stomach, as well as having a headache is also common. When the body is under stress, parts of the body usually get tense, which results in pain. Do your best to try and relax if these pains arise.
  • Shortness of breath – This tends to be the most distressing symptom of an anxiety attack, making you feel as though you can’t catch your breath. If you experience this, the best way to counteract it is to remind yourself that you won’t suffocate, stop breathing or pass out and that this is only temporary.
  • Feeling detached – This symptom can alter the way you interact with and perceive reality. It leads you to think everything around you is part of a dream or unreal.

Understanding the symptoms of a panic attack is the first step in learning to control its effect on your everyday life. If you’d like to find out more about panic attacks and what you can do to help manage their impact on you, contact a member of our team today.

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