Understanding and Controlling Your Panic Attacks

Anxiety is a difficult problem to control, but if you experience it so badly that you're prone to panic attacks, it can have a tight grip on your whole life.

Panic attacks vary in their precise symptoms, but most people find their heart rate increases, breathing might become difficult, and they feel a tightness in the chest and throat. Whatever your personal set of symptoms, the one thing you'll have in common with other panic attack sufferers is that you can be affected with little warning, making life very difficult.

Although the best way to deal with panic attacks is through a combination of therapy and medication, there are ways you can minimise the chance of experiencing an attack.

Keep a journal

It's not always easy to spot what's triggering panic attacks, but there's rarely no underlying cause at all. Part of the problem is that they can be really subtle, like a smell that reminds you of something traumatic, or your mind just wandering onto stressful topics.

One way to try and work out what sets you off is to keep a journal. Include details like what you did during the day, where you went, who you saw, and what you ate. You can then indicate when you've had a panic attack, which will help you look for patterns.

Although it isn't a good idea to totally avoid places or situations that make you anxious, you can approach them more mindfully when you understand their effect on you. It also gives you something to work towards controlling.

Avoid caffeine

There's a strong link between caffeine and anxiety, so if you're suffering panic attacks, it's really not a good idea to consume it. At the very least, cut down how much caffeine you have, and avoid it completely when you're going to be doing something potentially stressful.

Practise meditation

Meditation is not just for Buddhists and hippies. It's been shown to massively help people control fear and anxiety, and gives you a coping mechanism for the times when you feel a panic attack coming on. It takes practice but can be extremely useful.

Connected to meditation are breathing exercises, which can also help to calm your mind and body when you're becoming stressed.

Deal with other issues

Panic attacks are often connected to other psychological issues like depression or generalised anxiety disorder. If you're not seeking treatment for them, you're unlikely to get full control over your panic attacks. Deal with any underlying illness and you'll take huge steps towards being healthy, happy, and able to live life without fear.