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Panic attacks: what to do

Updated on August 7, 2011

I was talking about panic attacks the other day with one of my friend who suffers greatly from it. I have noticed that within my circle of friends and family at least 3 people are affected by this violent attack of anxiety that sometimes has extreme consequences like the person passing out or being shaken violently and unable to breath.

I wonder why so many people have panic attacks which can affect anyone even those who apparently lead a much more relaxing and easy going life. My friend for instance, lives in the lovely countryside and doesn’t have to commute every day taking crowed trains to go to the office, facing a crazy workaholic boss, have a pile of debts and going through divorce or nasty stuff. However many of us have to deal with these facts and maybe carry on with a much more complicate kind of life so anxiety, like stress and depression, is one of those symptoms that sadly is deeply present in our modern society.

Panic attacks are very similar to heart attacks even if the panic attack has not a fatal consequence like the heart attack. The symptoms are pretty much the same like the heart bit rate increases rapidly, lack of breath, the stomach might suffers symptoms of nausea, general discomfort. Other symptoms can include numbness of many parts of the body, chest pain, hyperventilation, uncontrolled palpitations, hot flashes, shivers and chills, trembling . Psycologically the person can suffer from claustrophobia, need to escape or feeling that something really bad is going to happens. In almost all the case an ambulance has to be called or the person has to be rushed to hospital.

Do not confuse an anxiety attack from a panic attack. Although very similar, an anxiety attack is not as severe as a panic attack even if it involves palpitations, being scared and unable to act because of being paralysed by fear.

What causes a panic attack?

Many people are not aware to suffer from panic attacks when these occurs for the first time. They maybe are not even aware of them and if these attacks are undetected and not cured they can lead to much more detrimental consequences: like leading to alcohol, depression, deterioration of the health and even suicide. A person can experience some of those symptoms or having them all. Some people can have daily panic disorders some other less frequent episodes. In any case the experience is truly terrifying and most of the victims are left very shaken and in despair after the attack. Unfortunately panic attacks can be quite difficult to cure because it is still unclear what causes the body to react in such scary way. It can be psicologically linked to a particular situation of depression, stress and anxiety but it can also being caused by genetic problems or brain conditions. It can be a consequence of a trauma, incident or some other sad experience like losing a job, a death of some close relatives and friends. Panic attacks were dismissed as a stress related problem while today is considered a specific medic condition and there are many therapies and medical help to ask for. Find a cure that can definitely mend the problem once for all might be not so easy.

My friend wasn’t aware of having a panic attack when she first suffered from it when she was 18. She thought to be suffering from an on going heart attack. The fact that this first attack occurred when she was having a quite dinner with her parents and all of the sudden she almost fainted and thought she was going to die, prompted her to see a doctor

So the first action to take is to book an appointment with the doctor and follow the cure he would prescribe. My friend also suggests some tips that might alleviate the symptoms and prevent the attacks.

Overcoming panic disorders:

What causes panic attacks is not clear and each one of us is different. However a person who suffers from panic attack need to relax, to calm down and to know that is just a temporary state of mind. The person that having a panic attack must think that everything is going to be all right, that she is in control and there is nothing to fear. She needs to think nothing but to relax and being in control. She needs to take a big breath, and try to distract herself away from what she might thinking is causing her troubles.

However trying to avoid this disorder by staying calm can be just a temporary solution so natural remedy for curing panic attacks are also available. For instance some herbs can help in calming down and distracting from whatever is the cause of a panic attack. For instance German Chamomile helps to relax and favour digestion. It has a soothing effect and it is not as strong as valerian or passionflower. Chamomile is an ideal natural remedy for teen-agers and children that are having sleeping problems. Overall is indicated for anxiety conditions and to lower down stress.

Lemon balm it is very frequently suggested in case of severe anxiety conditions and nervous stress. It has a soothing effect and helps with digestive problems. It also have a mild anti-thyroid effect.

Valerian is one of the most effective natural remedy for anxiety and nervous system problems. It contains potent ingredients valepotriates and acts on some receptors in the brain. Valerian is an excellent remedy for sleeping problems because it also relaxes the muscles. Valerian must not be prescribed to people that suffer from exhaustion, chronic fatigue, thyroid problems and depression because it might exacerbate these conditions.

Passionflowers. This herbs like valerian and lemon balm is often indicated and prescribed for people suffering from anxiety and for those who have sleeping problems. It has a strong effect in calming down the nerves, it is indicated for insomnia and to release the muscles.

Skullcalp: this herb has also an anti- spasmodic and anti-hypertensive effect. It is indicated for anxiety and irritability problems. It is tolerated well by most of people and has few side- effects

Cure based on tissue salts:

Tissue salts are also known as biochemical salts or cells salts, are formed by some components contained in our cells known as the 12 based minerals which are fundamental for our body to function. This theory is based on the study of Doctor Shussler that concluded every single cell needs to have those 12 components in perfect balance to allow the person to be in perfect health. I won’t go in details with this interesting theory but with cells salts you can cure virtually anything. It is similar to a homeopathic prescription but it differs because it consists of giving exactly the amount of the salt that is in deficit and those deficit causes the problem.

For instance with panic attack, the person might suffer from lack of KALI PHOS ( Potassium Phosphat) a salt that has an effect on the nerves because is one of those vital element present in the nerve tissue. By giving this salt to someone who suffered from insomnia or generally depression and even eating disorder, the patient should see some improvments.

Tissue salts are usually prescribed in little tablets and don’t have any side effect. For someone that suffers from panic attack it might be worth it to take a combination of salts..

In conclusion I would say that panic disorders are affecting many people from all walks of life and it is a complex condition to cure. However it is possible to overcome those nasty panic attacks by a combination of natural remedies and medical cures. If you suffer from it do not hesitate to talk about it and to ask for an help.



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    • laral profile image

      laral 6 years ago from England

      Thank you Bernard Aldy. I will have a look to your website. Thank you for stopping here and leave a comment on my article.

    • profile image

      Bernard Aldy 6 years ago

      Hello Admin

      You article related about anxiety is really informative article and really useful for me. Thank you admin....

      I have similar website like you about best anxiety treatments I hope you can visit my website and we can share each other.

      Thanks for you..

    • laral profile image

      laral 6 years ago from England

      Yes please. If you are about to write an hub on Panic Attacks it would be nice to link the two. Have a nice day

    • Adewale Ademuyiwa profile image

      Adewale Ademuyiwa 6 years ago


      Thanks for accepting my comment.

      I am new to Hub pages and this is only my second comment.

      I intend to write some Hubs soon.

    • laral profile image

      laral 6 years ago from England

      Thank you for commenting my hub and give a professional insight. I wonder if you have written an article on hubpage on this to link with mine.

    • profile image

      Adewale Ademuyiwa 6 years ago

      The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approach for dealing with panic attack is to first of all determine the following:

      1. The first attack the client experienced and the circumstances around it

      2. The frequency of the panic attacks

      3. The intensity of the panic attacks

      4. The places where the panic attack occurs

      5. What were they doing when panic attack occurs

      6. The belief of what the panic attack means when still in the experience of the panic attack (This is perhaps the most important).

      7. The coping measures taken by the client in attempts do prevent what they fear is happening to them.

      8. Co-morbidity (meaning :- are there any other mental or physical health conditions working together with the panic attack)

      With all these information, a CBT therapist is usually able to cure panic attacks within 6 sessions. In some cases I have been able to achieve a cure in one session (this depended greatly on how well the client worked with me and how well the followed my instructions).

      I will now go through each of the points and attempt to explain why they are important for achieving a successful result.

      The first attack the client experienced and the circumstances around it.

      Most people are able to give a vivid description of their first attack and the circumstances around it. Knowing this helps the therapist to begin unravelling the meaning the client places on their experience of panic attacks.

      In addition knowing the circumstances surrounding the first panic attack helps the therapist to begin to figure out if there are any beliefs or related mental health conditions that may affect the treatment process negatively.

      For example a client once told me that she was not doing anything at all when she had her first panic attack.

      This gave her the impression that the panic attacks can come upon her at anytime for no reason. Obviously this made her feel more afraid of panic attacks which then caused her to have more panic attacks.

      But then when she recalled that just prior to having her first panic attack she was thinking about how she would cope with life if her husband was to leave her, we both realized that this thought was big enough to cause her to have a panic attack- bearing in mind that she was slightly physically disabled and required a lot of manual support from her husband.

      So the power panic attacks had over her naturally reduced since she could see the cause of her initial panic attack.

      The frequency and intensity of the panic attacks

      These data are necessary to actively measure the progress the client is experiencing from following the treatment plan.

      For some strange reason, humans have a tendency to discount positive improvements and may not even notice it until you place it in black and white in front of them.

      A client might usually come to the first session and say I experience panic attacks about three times daily with in intensity of 80 (where 0= not intense at all and 100=extreme intensity).

      By session three they feel real positive about themselves when they realise that they have only had one panic attack in the week and the attack was only an intensity of 65.

      This does two things: reduce the perceive threat posed by panic attack by empowering the client with the belief that he can actually do something that has a desired effect against panic attacks.

      The places where the panic attack occurs and the activities the client is engaged in when they have panic attacks.

      It is not uncommon for clients to tie their experience of their panic attacks to particular places or particular activities.

      For example one client felt that if he lay down on his bed at a particular time he would have a panic attack so to stop himself having future attacks he would avoid going to his bed at the time.

      Client’s who tend to have panic attacks in crowded places may also need to be considered for the treatment of social phobia or agoraphobia.

      More importantly though, this knowledge arms both the therapist and client information that is used to treat and test the progress of treatment.

      Knowing that you can now do things you were actively avoiding because they were no longer causing a panic attack is definitely a good way to test if the treatment is working.

      The belief of what the panic attack means when still in the experience of the panic attack (This is perhaps the most important).

      Every single client I have treated has said a similar sentence to this to me:

      “ I know it sound really stupid, When I am fine, I know I am not going to have a heart attack (or whatever the usual feared outcome is), but when I am having a panic attack, the feeling is so real that I completely believe I will have a panic attack”.

      The meaning tied to the experience of panic attacks dictates the exact strategies that CBT therapists use for treatment.

      Some other meanings placed on panic attack are as follows:-

      I feel like I am going to die

      I feel like I am going to pass out (please note that if you have a tendency to experience low blood pressure, you may well pass out during a panic attack) so see a specialist before attempting any thing suggested here.

      I feel like I am literally going crazy,

      I feel like I am going to loose control.

      The coping measures taken by the client in attempts do prevent what they fear is happening to them.

      The coping strategies applied by clients always tends to be the major reason the experience of panic attack keeps returning so the therapist has to help the client stop using the strategies and teaches them new strategies base on the faulty strategies they were using.