5 Tips to decrease possibility of Panic Attacks! Don’t Panic ! but so Many of us Do!
Most people don’t know that I suffer from debilitating panic attacks and I have done so for about 5 years. Panic attacks can happen to anyone and for no apparent reason. They come on completely unexpectedly and can also leave and subside the same way. Some attacks can be mild and you can get them under control while some are so debilitating that sufferers can and do end up hospitalized. Nearly 6 Million people (females more than males) suffer from Panic disorder so its not unusual when you admit to panic attacks that many people will tell you that they too suffer!
What does a Panic Attack feel like?
Symptoms such as palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness extreme fear and anxiety, numbness and tingling, feeling as if you are disconnected, trembling, sweating, shivering, inability to articulate words – but mostly there is a sense of overwhelming fear or impending doom, a complete disconnect from reality, a fogginess and “blackness ! The following are 5 Things that we all should be doing that help keep Panic Attacks at bay. If the attacks are debilitating and severe, though, you should see your healthcare professional for additional strategies to understand, treat and control attacks.
- Water – What happens when you’re dehydrated. Your blood pressure drops and the body compensates by increasing your heart rate to pump fluids faster to essential organs. That feeling of increased or racing heart actually mimics the feeling of panic and in addition with a faster heart rate most people feel “light-headed” which contributes to fear and anxiety. If you are dehydrated cells are not being nourished and in addition hormones are not being effectively transported to cells – in short the body is not functioning optimally at any level. The trick is to not get to the point of dehydration.
- Food– Alcohol, coffee, excess sugar, processed foods, energy drinks should all be avoided as all contribute to anxiety symptoms. You should consume foods that are rich in B Vitamins such as chicken, leafy greens and legumes, rice, nuts and eggs. In addition, foods high in tryptophan’s are precursors to serotonin a calming neurotransmitter so turkey, oats, soy and nuts are good sources (though studies do not prove whether this crosses the blood/brain barrier). Eat salmon and foods high in Omega 3’s which are proven to boost mood and proteins which also boost mood such as eggs, soy, beans and nuts. Are you seeing a pattern here? No processed foods, foods are low in sugar and are in their natural states – so avoid dyes, additions and chemicals!
- Sleep – One of the most debilitating things is lack of sleep. Being tired makes you feel edgy, irritable and anxious. You see lack of sleep fires up the brains amygdala which is responsible for emotional processing. Repeated sleep deficit actually causes a cumulative effect. Studies at Berkeley have shown that Sleep Therapy can actually reduce or ameliorate anxiety and panic (http://news.berkeley.edu/2013/06/25/anticipate-the-worst/). So what can we do? In a previous article we discussed sleep http://bit.ly/2dE7N45 so please look at sleep strategies here. But try to go to bed earlier and a pre-determined time, avoid alcohol and heavy food before bed, keep room cool and dark for better sleep.
- Exercise – So where do you start? Exercise is a no brainer in that it reduces stress, releases endorphins, improves mood, decreases stress and tension. For those that suffer with panic attacks exercise can relieve the associated tension and pent up nervous energy and jitters. Done regularly, exercise can keep panic attacks at bay decreasing both frequency and intensity. In addition, exercise has been demonstrated to improve how people see and feel about themselves – the better you feel about yourself the less likely you are to let thoughts of panic and fear invade your mind.
- Supplements – Supplements such as Omega 3, B Vitamins especially thiamine (B1), B12,) Maca, & Magnesium all help to ward off depression and anxiety. Valerian Root, St. Johns Wort and Kava have also been shown to decrease stress, nervousness and irritability. As with any medication you should consult with your nurse practitioner or doctor prior to starting any of these supplements as a comprehensive review of all your medications should be done to ensure there are no adverse interactions.
I call the above 5 items my “Back to Basics” list for panic attacks. If you consistently improve each of these areas, you should also decrease the intensity and frequency of your panic attacks. If you feel that your signs and symptoms are not improving, then you absolutely need to see a healthcare professional.
From a personal stand point, there is hope and effective treatments available but it can take time to see a difference. My approach is to try and implement all five of the above strategies into your life. If you follow them consistently you should see improvement. If, however you don’t then you will need to follow up with your health care professional. While doing the above it is also a good idea to have your labs checked especially thyroid and B vitamin levels amongst other things.
For Loved ones or significant others:
Unfortunately, when a person is in the midst of severe panic attacks it is often hard to reason or rationalize with the sufferer that everything will be ok.
Try to be empathetic and understanding
Try to get the individual to focus on something such as breathing or distract them
At all costs ensure that the person suffering from the panic attack understands that you are “there” for them and that they are safe
Don’t patronize (you’re being ridiculous)
For more confidential help or if you have a topic you would like discussed – you can call me at 561-866-1211. Thanks Dolores
Synergy Health and Wellness Dolores@synergyhealthandwellness.net