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by Natalie Engel

It has happened to almost everyone at some time in their lives. You start feeling lightheaded, you can actually feel your heart pounding, you may be short of breath or have chest pain. It feels like you may be having a heart attack!

However, chances are pretty good that you are having a panic attack unless you are someone with heart disease or a history of cardiovascular problems. 

How Do You Know You Are Having a Panic Attack? 

Of course, you should have it checked out by a doctor if you have never experienced this before. Panic attacks can certainly feel like heart attacks if you have never had one before. Sometimes they occur out of nowhere and for no obvious reason. Other times, you are in the middle of a crowded store or at work dealing with too many things at once. People with panic disorders can have several panic attacks per week and every time they have one, they actually believe they are going to die. The symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Fear that you are going crazy
  • Abdominal or digestive issues such as diarrhea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Nervousness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feeling like you are going to die

Getting Through a Panic Attack

When you are having a panic attack, it is really difficult to get it under control. However, it is not impossible. It is best if you talk to a therapist to learn the best techniques to help your individual symptoms of panic attacks. However, in the meantime, there are some things you can do.

Deep Breathing

Getting a grasp on your breathing is the most important way to get your panic attack under control. Most people who are in the middle of an attack are breathing fast, which is what causes the rapid heartrate, dizziness, and can even cause you to faint. You may have seen people on television suffering from a panic attack and someone always gives them a paper bag or something to breathe into. You do not need the bag. That is just a way to trick your mind into thinking about your breathing rather than thinking about panicking. To do deep breathing, all you have to do is take a slow breath in through your nose, hold it for a couple of seconds, and then exhale and repeat. Make sure you pause for about three seconds between each breath so you do not end up hyperventilating. You can do this while standing, sitting, or laying down. 

Relax Your Muscles

Getting yourself to relax is done by relaxing your body, one muscle at a time. Progressive muscle relaxation is done in two steps. The first step is to tense your muscle groups one at a time. Then, release the tension of these muscle groups one at a time. Pay attention to each individual muscle as you tense and relax it. It also helps if you do your deep breathing during this exercise. 

Face Your Fears

The experts claim that the best way to get control of your panic disorder is to face your fears. To do this, you have to allow yourself to have panic attacks voluntarily so you can desensitize yourself from the symptoms. By bringing the symptoms on yourself, you will have a sense of control over the panic attacks and the feelings that occur during the attack. Eventually, you will get so used to these situations that set off the panic attacks that your body will not respond with these symptoms anymore. 

If you are having panic attacks more than once a month, you should talk to a therapist or counselor about it. You can talk to someone online without even needing an appointment.


About the Author

Natalie engel_0.jpegNatalie Engel graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2017, and is now a member of the Community and Support team at BetterHelp. Her daily work includes supporting the counselors, clients and any potential clients on the BetterHelp platform. One of her favorite aspects of her position is getting to interview and onboard counselors to expand the platform, and allow every member to be matched with a counselor who best fits their needs.

I'm Manjunath, IT professional aged 50 lived in Bangalore. I had stevia raw leaf juice accidently in 2015, instantly mean after 5min, had a severe panic attack, fear, anxiety, heart palpitation. Dr diagnosed with anxiety after a blood test was done by pathologist were found serotonin reduction drastically. Psychiatric gave treatment to increase serotonin for 6 weeks, later I'm getting heart palpitation for no reason, also hypoglycimia occurs when I delay to take breakfast/lunch/dinner. Psychiatric Dr said anxiety causes all the brief and adviced to ignore when occurs. Now I have dizziness suddenly with no time, SYS/DIA increases to 185/92. Cardiologist gave tablets to reduce SYS/DIA, even though it increased today admited in ICU for 2 hours. Because of severe anxiety unable to accept the higher position, international travel & opportunities.

All these problems started after consuming stevia leaf and don't have the history of anxiety in the past or in the family. How to get rid of anxiety without medicine or without consuming liver animal meat. Please drop me a suggestion to manjunathbasappa@outlook.com

Believe it or not, you can develop anxiety or panic disorder at any point in your life, and for almost any reason known to man. Genetics, stress, personality, even brain chemistry. And while the ways listed above can help many cope others have to rely on medication. I am a 23 year old woman, and up until about 2 months ago I was diagnosed with severe anxiety. This was only found out because I was hospitalized 3 different occasions for chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate (about 180 bpm), dizziness, and feeling like I was dying. Felt like an honest to god heart attack. And now it happens at random multiple times a day all the time. I am on Vistaril an anti anxiety med and antihistamine for my allergies. What I'm trying to say and I'm not invalidating your claim, I highly doubt stevia did this. As mentioned anxiety or panic disorder can develope at any age for any reason whether known or not. Panic disorder differing in the fact that you're so fearful of having another attack it can worsen and you may even avoid activities you think may cause it. If none of the coping mechanisms such as focusing on breathing, talking to someone, or even trying to just get through them work. Your only option would be medication to get a handle on it or to generally alleviate the symptoms, and that's something you have to come to terms with. Up until this year, I wouldn't have believed it myself but here I am. And I am trying to help

I am suffering what you have suffered. Can you help me?? It very difficult to deal this situation. I cant sleep, i am irritable.. What should i do?? Help me pls.....

I have suffer with anxiety since I was a small child. However, anxiety attacks surfaced by the tie I was 18 and in college. I was a complete mess. I actually did not go on Medication until I was 32. I should have been on it sooner. I was living in agony dealing with overwhelming feelings of death and dying. I also had OCD thought disorder. Had thoughts of suicide, and this is when I got help. With Medication and therapy I can not live my life with less worry that doesn't paralyze me with worry. I am 52, now, married with 2 kids. I refuse to let my anxiety get in my way of raising healthy children. Bless you and good luck

I’ve been diagnosed with panic attacks but I don’t believe it not a second. What kind of panic attacks make you sick all day long and make you weak my heart won’t let me exercise because it goes to fast and won’t stop. The sickness really gets to me Day by day. Then I really do have a panic attack at the end of day. As each day progresses it gets worse like I get weaker the longer I’m awake. I basically turned into a hypochondriac because I’m just worried about my health now

I always have panic attacks in the same places and around the same person its almost like it triggers. Although I also have theme at random....those arent so bad but when i'm in a certain place those are worse because they trigger thoughts and memories of bad situations. Is this a normal thing that goes with anxiety?

Dear reader I'm truly in a debarkle with regards to my attacks which I have everyday for the past few weeks and over the years it has progressed into me being some what of a neurotic I really need help please

Mine started in my early 20's when I would have to get up and speak to large crowds for work. By my late 20's they started to become uncontrollable. I still remember in 1998 sitting quietly on the sofa when my heart rate went from 60 to 200 bpm in the blink of an eye. From there it was at least 2 years of every doctor and every test and procedure available. In or around 2001 after finding nothing physically wrong, my doctor put me on a Beta-Blocker to keep the heart rate down and Celexa for anxiety. It worked fairly well all the way until 2018, when they resurfaced with a fury. A-Fib, palpitations, SVT, severe chest pains and weakness, etc. After 5 trips via ambulance to the ER only to find nothing wrong, I went to an electrophysiologist. He performed an ablation on me, ~ 12 burns that have corrected the SVT, palps, and A-Fib. But that only fixed the heart, not the panic attacks. I've tried Sea Bands, Epley Maneuver, Rolling a tennis ball on my feet, compression socks, messages, probiotics, Music, Rain, Smelling Salts, Stretching, Exercise, Hot Showers, Cold Showers, Ice Packs, Shoe inserts, diet changes, gallons of water, etc. and none of it works 100% of the time, they still keep coming. Since Dec 2018 when I had the surgery, the longest I've gone without one is 1 week, but since Feb 2019 I have several per week every week. Even though my heart rate and beat consistency stays perfect, I still have all of the other systems and each time my BP spikes very high. I gave up, I literally did, so my Doctor prescribed Klonopin, 0.5 MG 2 daily as needed. All I can say is that it works. I'm 49 now and don't like the prospects of taking it, but it works and as long as I keep one with me at all times and take only as a last resort, I will stay on it. Within minutes, every symptom disappears and at least until the next one hits I feel perfectly normal. There is no euphoric feeling and it does not make me drowsy, it just alleviates the nausea, weakness, shakiness, heavy breathing, sweating, chest pains, and thoughts of dying or losing control. But I believe it should always be a last resort rescue item. Some of the aforementioned items work too, they just don't work 100% of the time, so far Klonopin has. Best wishes to all of that suffer with these awful panic attacks, I pray for you all. Find your peace any way you can, because life is already too short, so if even a brief period of piece is all you get, to me it's better than a lifetime of misery. Good luck on your journey and God Bless.

We need more kind honest people like you in the world 14 days straight i thought i was dying had insomnia nosleep atall struggled eating and drinking everything 5mg diazepam 10mg cetralopram and 120mg propranalol and all ihave to say is meds do help thanks for your kind words hope people are at ease

I was in the shower a couple days ago and, my heart started racing, and chest was feeling a little tight, my legs felt like there where going to give out, I was shaking, I honestly felt like I was going to collapse or something, but I ran out of the bathroom because I was so scared I didn't know what was happening, and just sat on the floor, shaking and in so much pain

Ms. Jessica Smith

December 5, 2019

Your article is absolutely not true. It’s hard to even begin to write about how wrong you are. It’s a blatant shame you have the job you do “helping” people with anxiety. Whoever came up with the insane opinion you should “face your fears” scenario is a complete failure at what they do. This would never work for a person who has anxiety disorder (panic disorder) it’s completely ludicrous. It infuriates me people give advice on something you obviously have no experience with. I was simply looking up a phrase for someone to comfort them when I came across your article. I’ve had panic disorder with agoraphobia for 37 years. What you wrote is unfortunately so untrue and an absolutely ridiculous form of helping someone who is looking for help about anxiety or panic disorder. I sincerely hope no one takes this advice on this “study”

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