If you’re prone to panic attacks or know someone who is, you know how debilitating they can be, not to mention how unpredictable they are. Whether you have an HMO health insurance plan, PPO health insurance, or Medicare insurance, seeking help from a trained psychotherapist can help you get a handle on your anxiety.
In the meantime, we hope our discussion here will help you deal if you are experiencing anxiety.
In layman’s terms – a panic attack is a recurring feeling of intense fear or anxiety that can hit you at any time. It could be while shopping at the store or driving along a familiar road or freeway. You suddenly break into a sweat with your heart seemingly racing out of control, as well as a being overcome by a sense of pending doom, wondering if you’re going to pass out or have a heart attack.
In addition, you may have an uncontrollable urge to “run for your life” by quickly exiting your location to more open surroundings.
How can you tell if you’re having a panic attack?
While symptoms of a panic attack can differ between individuals, some of the more common ones, according to Michelle Riba, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan and former president of the American Psychiatric Association, include:
- A racing heart
- Difficulty breathing
- Feeling out of control or that you’re losing your mind
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Shaking or trembling
- Hot flashes or chills
- Fear that you may die
Triggers and possible causes
Again, because individuals are different, what triggers a panic attack in one person may not affect another. But, generally, the National Alliance on Mental Illness suggests that panic and anxiety disorders may be genetic and run in families. Traumatic and stressful events also could be to blame for the attacks.
Furthermore, Riba points out that hyperthyroidism and steroid use can contribute to panic attacks, as can an imbalance of certain chemicals that occur naturally in the brain.
What to do if you feel an attack coming on
Managing a panic attack and regaining your calm can be difficult – depending on the severity – but, by following a few simple tricks, you might be able to better control them.
Among these are:
- Distract yourself, if possible
There’s no telling when you’ll suffer from one, but finding something to take your mind off an impending panic attack can be helpful. If you’re at home, simply step outside, pop a mint or chew some gum, and turn on some soothing music.
- Focus on something calm and pleasing
Visualize a quiet vacation spot or focus on the natural beauty of a beach, the trees, or blue sky. Try to switch gears in your brain to take your mind off your anxious feeling of dread, according to Riba.
- Try taking deep breaths
The idea here is to inhale and exhale slowly. Doing it quickly can bring on hyperventilation, making matters worse. Practice counting to 10 or even 20 while taking each breath. That way, you’ll be ready to tackle the attack should it come.
- Taking a long drink of water
Keeping a bottle of water at your desk at all times and taking long sips to minimize the attack or to buy you some time until it subsides.
- Keep reassuring yourself
Typically, the average panic or anxiety attack lasts only a few minutes. Just remind yourself – verbally, if necessary – that relief is moments away.
- Face your attack head on
According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), you shouldn’t try to deny or resist a panic attack because it will make it worse. Face your attack head on by pulling out your bag of coping strategies.
- Stay as positive as possible
Staying positive before, during, and after an anxiety attack may not be the easiest thing to pull off, but it’s to your benefit to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Don’t imagine the worst.
No matter what kind of health insurance plan you have, consult your healthcare provider or see a psychiatrist for possible medications or treatment to help control your condition. As long as you’re paying for health insurance, you might as well use it to feel better.