Panic attacks are episodes of intense distress or fear that occur suddenly and recur from time to time, lasting for an average of 10-30 minutes.
Symptoms : chest pain or tightness, palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath (suffocating feeling), dizziness, feeling like you’re going to faint, numbness, chills or hot flushes, nausea or abdominal pain, feeling yourself or others around you changed/different, fear of going crazy, the fear of death. At least 4 of the symptoms are present during a panic attack. The person who has experienced a panic attack may begin to experience “Panic Disorder”.
▪Panic Disorder; Constantly worrying that other attacks will occur in the times between recurrent attacks, Being constantly sad with the belief that it may lead to bad consequences such as having a heart attack or dying, taking precautions against attacks and possible bad consequences (sports, not doing housework, not going to work, eating some food and drinks and It is a mental disorder in which behavioral changes such as not drinking, etc. are seen.
It is a thought disorder that can be treated with the cooperation of medication and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Panic disorder does not cause the disaster scenarios you fear to happen. It is not fatal. However, it is possible to learn to cope with this problem that complicates your life.
According to epidemiological studies, the lifetime prevalence of panic disorder is 1.5-3.5%. The onset of panic disorder is more often in young adulthood. Although the age of onset is mostly in the 20s, it can start at any time of life. It is twice as common in women as in men.
What causes panic attacks?
“ When you express your hidden feelings, anxiety usually goes away.”
“Anxiety is almost always the symbolic expression of your true emotion.”
“You can focus on solving the problem instead of wasting all your energy eating and beating yourself up.”
Attacks have many origins, such as genetic predisposition, upbringing. But to explain it in a simpler way, David Burns is trying to tell you with these sentences in his book “Panic Attack”; Attacks are a tired mind’s way of saying I’m here, that is, a distress call. Unexpressed sentences, unanswered question marks, relational and vital problems, and unresolved knots fill the carrying capacity of the mind. Attacks are your mind’s way of asking you for help, attention. It can be said that it is time to turn within yourself, to analyze, to change.
What Should I Do During an Attack?
First of all, you should know that the attacks are not fatal, that you do not lose your mind. When you have a headache, muscle pain, or the flu, you know it will pass. We do what is necessary (for example, in a headache, we can take painkillers, rest our eyes in a dark environment) and wait for it to pass. Attacks will also pass, but you should diligently apply what needs to be done during the attack, as you do what is necessary for other ailments to pass.
* Breathing and relaxation exercises;
At the time of the attack, the person sometimes starts to breathe very quickly due to the thought of not being able to breathe and because of anxiety. At this point, the symptoms of panic become even more pronounced. It’s important to keep your breathing under control at that moment. Fill your lungs with air by breathing for 4 seconds. Hold for 4 seconds and exhale slowly for 8 seconds. Perform an average of 10 times during the attack.
You have to tense up and relax your body. Tighten and relax your right-left arm, leg, fingers, hands, abdomen, chest and face muscles for an average of 30 seconds each.
* Five objects, four sense methods;
Conscious awareness requires the mind to stay in the moment. Since it is not possible to try not to focus on bodily responses, we need different objects or situations to focus on.
▪Try to think about 5 objects around you. For example: bookshelf (where did we get this, when was the last time I arranged it, would it be better to remove that object from there, had I read that book?)
▪You can also use the pareidolia (eye illusion) method; trying to make objects or patterns look like something else.
▪Activating our sense organs (touch, hearing, taste, smell) focuses your mind on staying in the moment. Sniffing an essential oil (lavender) that will relax you, trying to guess the smells coming from outside while opening the window, hugging a soft blanket…
Can Panic Attacks Be Treated? How long does the treatment take?
If we explain the functioning of the mind in a simple way; situation-> thought-> emotion-> behavior
1. Thoughts bring out emotion; you feel the way you think.
2. When you are anxious, you deceive yourself. Anxiety is the result of distorted, illogical thoughts.
3. When you change how you think, you can change how you feel. Thus, the result, that is, the behavior will disappear.
In conclusion, panic attack is not a disease, it is a thought disorder. When you learn the functioning of your thought pattern and notice the errors in the functioning, you have the opportunity to correct it. So the cure is to learn the manual of your mind.
So how long will the treatment take?
The therapy period of panic attack treatment is approximately 6 months. This time may increase or decrease in direct proportion to your effort. It is a learning process and learning something well requires continuity, consistency, time and effort.
How to help someone with a panic attack
Attack is a personal experience. There may even be differences between people who experience attacks. You should try to understand what the attacker needs and not judge. The person may need to talk or be alone. The anxious behavior of the people around at the time of the attack and their intense interest in the person can turn into secondary gains and cause reinforcement of the behavior. Therefore, it should be approached calmly and solution-oriented.