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Panic Attacks

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Today will be a more personal but very common issue, something a lot of people suffer with...
Panic Attacks.

What is a Panic Attack?

A panic attack is feeling a sense of fear, feeling like you are separated from the world around you.

Your body goes into something called: 'Fight and flight mode", this basically means you either fight the what's giving you anxiety head on or you get yourself away from the stressor that is causing you your panic attacks. They can be triggered by almost anything.
You experience different things such as shaking, feeling sick, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating and sometimes depersonalisation/derealisation (where everything feels almost dream like in your view). We experience these things during a panic attack because our body prepares itself for 'danger', we get a rush of adrenaline which causes our heart to beat faster and our muscles to tense up.

"Anxiety is a heavy rock...Yelling at it won't make it go away...But  sometimes, if you take the time to feel the texture and ridges of your anxiety...It feels just a little less heavier than it was before"

For me?...
A panic/ attack is something I have no control of, I get it most days, I am a constant worrier and a 'what if' thinker. I have always been that shy quiet girl at the back, I am not really a risk taker and that is because it sometimes feels like anxiety has full control.

What triggers a Panic Attack?

Although there is no specific cause or 'trigger' to anxiety, we still have stressors such as: Being scared of heights, seeing a spider, being in a crowded area. The body sees these stressors which sets off the bodies alarm system, these things we see as a threat is a unnecessary trigger even when there is no real danger. 

A panic attack can happen literally anywhere:
  • At home
  • On a journey somewhere
  • At your place of education or work
  • Walking down the street
  • Meeting up with friends
  • At a park

And a panic attack can be triggered by anything:
  • Exams
  • An interview
  • Going on a date
  • Being in Crowded places
  • Being in a small place
  • Being somewhere new
  • Arguments

I think some people out there don't have enough understanding of panic attacks, and just how scary they are, it's not their fault, I wouldn't wish it upon anyone. However, until you experience one it's just something so hard to get your head around. My partner for example, he is so supportive of me and understand my anxiety but feels scared because he never knows what to do when I have a panic attack, heck, even I don't know what to do when I have a panic attack. I've met a few people that tend to think "Oh you are just too sensitive". That is not okay. I have had so many people come to me saying that they even lose their jobs because of the their anxiety, anxiety NEEDS more awareness. Those people are right though, I am sensitive, I do cry easily and I can't control my stress as well as others might do, but we are all beautifully different. Anxiety isn't a form of attention seeking either, it's a mental health disorder that affects millions of people. It sucks. Anxiety sucks.  Everyday I am slowly trying to overcome my anxiety a little step at a time, I just do things now, I go outside even if I dread the thought of it and because I am doing this I am experiencing so many more things. It's so easy to let anxiety dictate your life but try and do what you want to do without letting anxiety tell you no. Instead, say YES. 

Each time I feel panicky, I try to tell myself:"Calm yourself, there is nothing to panic about". 


My first Panic Attack
I have been suffering with panic attacks since I think 2013, this may not be a long time compared to most people out there who may have had them longer but I certainly understand what it is like feeling scared, needing advice and I know the feeling of not being in control of your own body. It's truly horrific and if you are reading this, I understand and I really wish I could comfort you as I imagine most may be reading this for advice or maybe you're here just to learn more about it and if so then I hope I am helping in some way.

I am not some editor that gets paid for what I write, there's no promotion. I just feel so strongly about this, I am an average girl that experiences anxiety on a daily basis who goes to college and tries my hardest in all I do. This is real.

I'd like to mainly focus on panic attacks in this post as I have another post focusing on anxiety. Panic attacks can be small or minor depending on the anxiety levels. I am not sure what first triggered my first panic attack but I remember the experience itself clearly.
 My first time having a panic attack was a really frightening thing in my life. I started off feeling a little light headed and sick, I didn't realise my breathing was too quick and I was hyperventilating. It felt as though I couldn't breathe, I remember going outside quickly and I got on all fours on the cold ground wanting to breath normally, it was ice cold outside and I was wearing my short pyjamas, I didn't care, I felt like I was burning up and all I could hear was my heart beating, to be honest it felt like a heart attack. I was confused as to what was happening. I thought something terrible was going to happen to me. I was so frightened. 

During this first time of me having a panic attack I found that support is so important.

Some may find it helpful to get talked to calmly whilst having one. However, for me, being asked questions like "are you okay?" constantly did not help, I am grateful they cared so much, but at the time it didn't feel helpful I just wanted silence and a hug I guess? I just wanted someone to ring a medical helpline, they did eventually as no one knew what was happening, the lady on the phone tried to explain it to me and distract me with questions to calm me down but I just felt like "Hey how do you expect me to answer when I feel as though I'm being suffocated!" However, the method of trying to distract your mind does work. The lady I spoke to told me what was happening.


If someone is having a panic attack, it is best to say:
"Everything will be okay, calm... Nothing bad will happen to you...what you are feeling is perfectly will be okay soon... calm."

We don't want to hear things like:
"Just try and stand up...stop being silly...don't be so sensitive your fine...just breath normally then you won't be light-headed".

So for people that say it is attention seeking, we don't ask to feel this way! We don't ask for it to happen! I can understand it's hard for some people to understand if they've never experienced a panic attack before, but it's honestly horrible and I feel so sad that so many people experience it. 


 Panic Attacks never last longer than 5-20 minutes although every minute you have it for feels like eternity, every second goes by slowly.

"Deep breaths, steady your breathing for me. I know it feels hard to do so but try for me it will help you, it's hard to control but breathe through your through your mouth slowly as though you are blowing out a candle"

Controlling your breathing can determine how quickly you recover from the panic attack, the faster you can get your breathing at a steady rate you feel a lot less panicky.


 I have been getting a lot better at controlling my panic attacks, the thing that I find most useful to me is doing some yoga, going to get fresh air alone and the use of reading relaxation scripts to myself. I can't stress enough how much these help me through times of anxiety.

Inner Health Studio provide some fantastic ones:

If any of you would like to share your stories with panic attacks below I'd love to hear but I also understand that these things can be quite personal. Giving advice would be really supportive for everyone else reading this blog post. I am welcome to answer any questions you may have, I'll try my best to help.

"Everything will be okay...calm"

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