Panic Attacks are very common and are experienced quite frequently. It’s a sudden overwhelming feeling of acute and disabling anxiety, one that relegates the person incapable of doing almost of anything a fear of dying or heart attack, numbness throughout the body, flashing vision, heavy breathing, faintness or nausea and hyperventilation, or loss of bodily control. The expression “anxiety” hardly is appropriate for the helpless situation that the Panic Attack leads to, the racing heartbeat, ‘sweating like a pig’ due to sheer terror and fright.
What causes the attack?
The adrenal glands are pea-sized organs situated right above the kidneys and are responsible for storing and releasing adrenaline. A message of fear sends a signal to the adrenal glands that there is an emergency. A condition of adrenaline rushing through your bloodstream results in heightened abilities of response to emergency situations. Such emergency responses also transgress into physical symptoms that are often misinterpreted as a heart attack or other serious physical conditions. Interestingly, misinterpretation of such symptoms results in the continuous bodily response towards fear. Adrenaline causes the heart to pump extra blood that in turn carries more oxygen to the major muscles, thus augmenting the fight or flight responses of the body.
It takes three minutes from the time that your brain sends the emergency signal until your body is fully adrenalinated with extra blood in your large arm and leg muscles and in your brain. The acute physiological symptoms are perceived to be highly realistic and blaming the brain signals for such a hapless state-of-being, momentarily, seems like a daunting task. However, as its rightly said, Fear is only in the mind, and it is up to a person to either control it, or let it devour them. This is what causes a Panic Attack in biological terms.
Ways to Stop a Panic Attack
- Breathe Deeply
The stress response is mitigated with every relaxation technique and these affect the fight or flight reactions. Based on deep breathing, something as simple as slow abdominal breathing is powerful enough to calm down the entire nervous system. Miraculously enough, deep inhaling and exhaling lowers the adrenaline rush and helps the body cope with the Panic Attack, minus the medication. Three basic breathing approaches widely practiced: resistance breathing, coherent breathing and breath moving. But really, all one has to do is inhale to a count of six and exhale on a similar scale, slowly circulating the breath from the chest towards diaphragm.
- Splash Some Water on the Face
Splashing cold water on your face causes a shift in perspectives, if only for a moment’s time. According to numerous research, immersing your face in cold-water produces physiological changes by stimulating the parasympathetic system. It activates the vagal nervous system that helps reduce rate of heart beats while at the same time, aiding the digestive and immune systems.
- Take a Bath with Epsom Salts
Immerse your entire body in a bath containing Epsom salts, the composition of which includes mineral compounds such as magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. According to a recent study published in the Neuropharmacology journal, deficiency of magnesium (The Original Chill Pill) leads to anxiety and stress. Subsequently, a warm Epsom salt bath facilitates the absorption of magnesium into the skin, hence promoting a feeling of calm and relaxation.
- A Scalp Massage
Massive research clearly points to the shifts into a person’s biochemistry post a scalp massage. These are particularly beneficial as it leads to blood circulation into the brain and helps reduce the muscle tension, especially in the back of the head and neck. Regular use of lavender essential oils is recommended as it lowers the mental stress and magnifies the subjects alertness.
- Shake it Off!
Shaking the Anxiety away, or the movement of bodies in a primal fashion is simply the best neurological exercise we have for loosening the noose of fear that often hangs around our necks, and for moving forward like a creature who refuses to be anyone’s dinner.
Praying is another great way to stop a panic attack. Reciting a mantra over and over again, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system that in turn incurs a soothing-calming effect on the mind. It could be something as simple as uttering the words “peace” or “Please, God, end this!” with a combination of holding the rosary and moving the prayer beads is one of the best methods of stopping a panic attack. And you know what, even sleeping with a rosary has a calming effect.
- Yoga: Rabbit Pose
Another remedy is known as the Rabbit Pose, that involves sitting on your heels Japanese style with the knees and feet together. Reach for the back, grab your heels with either hand keeping the palms down. As you look at your stomach, lower your chin towards your chest and slowly curl your torso, until the forehead touches the knees and the top of the head brushes the floor while lifting your hips into the air. The above mentioned yoga pose immensely relieves tension in the neck, shoulders, and back. The therapy is especially helpful for anxiety and depression as it compresses the parathyroid and thyroid glands and regulates blood flow into the brain.
- Binaural Beats or Waves Theory
Binaural Waves or Beats is a technology that uses low-frequency tones in congruence with brainwave entrainment that influence the mood, hence furnishing a greater control over pain. A few recent studies point to the significant reduction in anxiety levels with the use of binaural beats and/or audio therapy. Even concentrating on the sounds of ocean waves, the ebb and flow of water has a stabilizing effect on the heart palpitations and reduces the effects of a panic attack.
- Warm Your Hands
Providing warmth to our hands, reverses the stress responses and triggers parasympathetic relaxation. Numerous research support the fact that blood pressure is lowered with the warming of hands.
- Dark Chocolate
One square of dark chocolate has the highest concentrations of magnesium, around 327 milligrams, or equivalent to 82 percent of your daily requirements. It also contains large amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that works as a precursor to serotonin, and theobromine, another mood-elevating compound. Eat lots of dark chocolate, and go forth for at least 85 percent of cocoa content or higher. Perhaps a few squares of Lindt Excellence Supreme Dark Chocolate 90% Cocoa, 3.5-Ounce Packages (Pack of 12)
and you’ll be just fine.