Mental Health Monday: Do you have Panic or Anxiety Attacks?

OneĀ of the side effects of my anxiety is being prone to panic attacks. They don’t happen very often but when they do, they take a lot out of me. Last week, I had my first panic attack in almost 2 years and it took all of my inner strength not to let myself carry on with the negative thoughts that would take me into a dark place.

Bexcapades mental health Monday panic attacks

There are two different types of attacks, one is an anxiety attack and one is a panic attack. When you have anxiety, you’re more likely to have one or the other.

Panic attacks are sudden, intense & overwhelming. They are accompanied by frightening physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath or nausea. Unexpected panic attacks happen without an obvious cause whereas expected panic attacks are cued by stressors such as phobias.

Research

HealthLine categorises symptoms and arranges then into anxiety or panic attacks as follows.

Health line panic or anxiety attackHealthline panic or anxiety attackHealthline panic or anxiety attack

My Experience

I have always been good at disguising my anxiety but when a panic attack strikes, it is impossible to. When I have a panic attack, I feel tightness in my chest, I can’t breathe to the point where I’m inhaling & exhaling loudly and quickly, my legs start shaking, I can convulse, my arms & hands shake, I feel like I need to be sick and sometimes I cry uncontrollably.

All rationality and logic goes out of the window & there is no control. Last week a dog jumped out at me unexpectedly and wouldn’t stop jumping up on me. I have been scared of dogs for as long as I can remember and this particular instance triggered a panic attack (including the crying). The dog was being playful, it’s tail was wagging and it wasn’t being aggressive however the shock mixed with my fear couldn’t talk myself out of the panic.

A girl who I live with saw that I was panicking so came over and distracted the dog so that I could go away. I waked to my room with shaking legs, crying, still unable to breathe properly. It took about 15/20 minutes for my breathing to slow down & then a further 20 minutes for my heartbeat to go back to normal. It was the first panic attack I had had in 2 years.

What To Do

There is no sure fire way to get yourself out of a panic attack once it’s happening. The inability to breathe takes over your ability to think reasonably. The more you try & breathe normally, the more you panic about not being able to breathe. Instead, you have to try and recognise the early signs of a panic attack and try and calm yourself down before it escalates. This will be easier in certain situations over others.

If you find yourself alone during a panic attack then try and focus on your senses. In your mind, pick out 5 things that you can see, hear, smell, touch and taste and you can start to distract yourself. As soon as you can breathe again, message someone telling them what has happened.

It is cathartic to write/type what has happened and I find it helps me to see whether or not the panic attack was triggered or not. Mine last week was triggered by the dog but sometimes they appear to be overreactions. They are not. They are a build up of stresses and emotions that you have been holding in and it is your body’s way of releasing the tension.

This was written as part of Mental Health Monday where people share their stories on the first Monday of each month.

Mental health Monday - panic attacks

Bex

Post Author: bexcapades

I am a 22 year old teacher from the UK who is currently travelling around Australia on a Working Holiday Visa year.

6 thoughts on “Mental Health Monday: Do you have Panic or Anxiety Attacks?

    Darren Howard

    (May 11, 2018 - 6:16 am)

    Thank you for your hard work in writing this. One thing I found when having an attack is I can’t stay still my feet and legs are constantly irritated causing me to become restless and won’t allow me to sleep. I take constant showers and countless amounts of vallium it takes several hours to wear off. I often find hits me mid afternoon to late night

      bexcapades

      (May 26, 2018 - 2:14 am)

      People react differently and need different things to help them through, good luck with finding positive ways to cope.
      Bex

    King Braswell

    (May 11, 2018 - 8:21 am)

    Appreciate this post! I have both kinds of attacks.
    http://www.kingbraswell.com

      bexcapades

      (May 26, 2018 - 2:14 am)

      Thank you for responding, I hope it made you feel less alone.
      Bex

    Rambling Woman

    (May 14, 2018 - 10:00 am)

    Very informative post! I had panic attacks when I was younger and still get them on occasion (usually in the middle of the night). The pounding heart and shortness of breath are terrifying.

      bexcapades

      (May 26, 2018 - 2:15 am)

      They really are terrifying and it can be so hard to pull yourself out from them. I hope they become few and far between for you!
      Bex

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *