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How do you know you are having a panic attack?

When you have had an anxiety disorder and panic attacks your whole life, you learn what symptoms you typically experience and the feeling of one coming on. But for someone who never has had a panic attack or has only had a very mild one, some of the symptoms can be very scary. I mean, even when I know that I'm having a panic attack, the symptoms still freak me out. So how do you know when you are having one?

First you need to know what some typical signs and symptoms are for a panic attack. Knowing these not only can tell you if you may be experiencing a panic attack, but it helps you to recognize the signs early so you can start implementing some strategies quickly. 

Here are some different symptoms you might experience:
  • ·         Tunnel vision
  • ·         Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • ·         Fight or flight
  • ·         Fear of losing control
  • ·         Racing heartbeat
  • ·         Flushes or chills
  • ·         Sweating
  • ·         Tingling in the extremities
  • ·         Twitching or trembling muscles
  • ·         Feeling like you aren’t real
  • ·         Flushed face
  • ·         Fear of dying

The ones in bold are what I experience most often, but using different strategies helps me to reduce these symptoms before I am a hysterical mess.

  1. Try using essential oils. I have a lavender lotion stick that I like to wave in front of my nose and rub on my wrists and on the back of my neck. Lavender is known as a calming herb and it really does help me to relax at the start of a panic attack.
  2. Using coping words can be helpful as well. This might sound silly but it has helped me out when I get anxiety from being in the car. I like to shout 'Get out of my head devil!' and yeah I give myself a little laugh afterwards, but I also feel so much better just speaking out against the panic attack.
  3. Try distracting yourself. I always carry headphones with me so if I'm waiting at the doctor's office or at Gavin's practice and I start to feel anxious, I just pop my headphones in and put on Netflix. TV is a great distraction. If you can't watch a show on your phone try playing a game or keep a book on hand to read.

Everybody experiences anxiety differently so finding the right technique for you is key. It took me years to figure out what works for me, mostly because I didn't research and I wasn't in therapy. So research and find some different strategies that other people use so you have plenty of tools on hand if a panic attack happens.

***I am not a mental health professional and these are just tips that work for me.


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