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As a psychiatrist serving patients in Augusta County, VA, I help people deal with the reality of panic attacks all the time. For those of you that don’t know, a panic attack is a feeling of sudden and intense anxiety. These also have physical symptoms that include:

  • Shaking
  • Feelings of disorientation,
  • Nausea
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Dry mouth
  • Breathlessness
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness

They can make you feel like you’re having a heart attack like you’re going to collapse, or even like you’re going to die. They can last somewhere from five minutes to half an hour. If you suffer from any mood and thought disorder and suffer panic attacks, you should not feel like you’re alone. Working with our patients, we find the following tips can help you deal with them.

1. Don’t Let These Attacks Control You

Panic attacks always pass. The symptoms you’re experiencing are not a sign of anything harmful happening. You need to tell yourself that the way your heart is racing, your breathlessness, that disorientation, is all caused by anxiety.
Don’t look for distractions, ride it out. As hard as it can be, ride through these feelings. If it is possible, stay in the situation until anxiety has stopped. This allows you to confront your fear and discover that nothing bad is going to happen.

2. Try Some Breathing Exercises

If you’re breathing very quickly while having a panic attack, try doing a breathing exercise. Doing that can actually alleviate some of your other symptoms.  Here’s an exercise some of our psychiatrists teach in Augusta County, VA:

  • Breathe in slow, gentle, and deep breaths through your nose
  • Breathe out those slow, gentle, and deep breaths through your mouth

Repeat this until you can normalize your breathing. Some people find it very helpful to count from one to five on each in-breath and out-breath and even close their eyes to focus on this.

3. Work to Prevent Future Attacks If You Can

If you’re having panic attacks in a particular situation, it’s a great idea to figure out what it is. That way you can prepare by having a self care routine to help you and allow you to live your life. While we come up with lots of methods with our patients, here are some ideas to try:

  • Doing breathing exercises every day
  • Engaging in regular exercise
  • Eating regular meals and particular times
  • Avoiding  caffeine, alcohol, and smoking
  • Joining a support group
  • Talking to your psychiatrist about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

These are only a few suggestions but there’s a lot you can do to help you deal with the reality of panic attacks. At Shenandoah Psychiatric Medicine, we urge those suffering from panic attacks, in particular, to come to us for help. Our psychiatrists specialize not only in anxiety disorders but a variety of other mood and thought disorders that suffer from panic attacks. Our staff is equipped to help you deal and eventually overcome panic attacks.
To get that help, contact us so we can get started.