Panic attacks are scary, especially in the moment. But you can push through them. And you will learn to minimize their effect on your life.

How do you know if you’re having a panic attack?

If you have ever had a panic attack, or if you are having one while reading this, then you know how intense they can be. Panic attacks may happen as a result of chronic stress, or they may seem to happen out of nowhere. Possible symptoms include:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath/hyperventilation
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Numbness or tingling (especially in arms or legs)
  • Feeling like your mind is out of control, or you’re going to die

Many of these symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack, and the stress of that thought often makes the symptoms even worse. But unless you have a history of heart problems, it’s very likely that your racing heart is due to panic.

When you’re in the midst of a panic attack (even when you know that’s what it is), it can be very difficult to pull yourself out of it. The peak of a panic attack is usually after 10-30 minutes. But the effects can linger.

Besides experiencing exhaustion immediately following an attack, you may begin to stress over the next time an attack will occur. This can lead to avoidance of perceived triggers.

For example, if you had a panic attack in a crowded grocery store, you may now feel inclined to avoid similar situations. But as with other anxiety disorders, avoidance only worsens the effect of panic disorder.

If you have panic attacks infrequently, and as a result of specific, stressful life events, then you may have a different anxiety disorder (such as OCD). But if your panic attacks are frequent, and seemingly come out of nowhere, you may have panic disorder.

Panic disorder treatment - Can panic disorder be cured?

There is no outright cure for panic disorder. But with time and effort, you can reduce your symptoms to the point where they have minimal effect on your daily life. 

A significant part of that will be learning coping skills for working through panic attacks as they happen. Therapy is a great source for learning what techniques work best for you.

If you are having a panic attack, the first step is to recognize that it’s happening. We will help familiarize you with the symptoms of panic, so that when you experience them, they won’t surprise you.

If your attack is making it difficult to breathe, try to take controlled, deep breaths. Breathe in for three seconds, hold it for two, and let it out for three. This can help avoid hyperventilation, and may shorten the attack’s duration or keep it from getting worse.

In terms of what you can do in between panic attacks: relaxation techniques (like meditation or progressive muscle relaxation), getting enough sleep, regular exercise, and therapy sessions can all help. The goal is to reduce your baseline stress level; we may also recommend medication to assist in this.

By familiarizing yourself with the symptoms, and reducing your overall stress, you will start minimizing the frequency and severity of your panic disorder. We will help you identify what preventative techniques work for you, and work towards a place where your panic attacks and the stress involved in them become manageable.

This process will take some time and patience with yourself, but we will provide a safe space for your journey. Get started!

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