About a third of us may experience a panic attack at some point in our lives. The symptoms vary with each person but will include a racing, pounding heart. Other symptoms may include tingling sensations, numbness, and hyperventilation.
A panic attack is a flaw in the flight or fight mechanism that enables us to respond to accidents, fire, an attacker, etc. Some find that they lose sense of time and place. However they are not dangerous inherently.
Too much caffeine may trigger a panic attack, or a flash back to a painful memory. Bullying may cause it, or a shock like bad news, witnessing a horrific crime, verbal abuse, being in crowd, fast beat music. It is a symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Justin Feinstein Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist and director of the Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma says of panic attacks “It’s a normal physiological fear response happening at a totally inappropriate time.”
My aim here is to help anyone to end a panic attack. When you feel your heart racing and your respiration increasing, put your hand with closed fingers over your mouth and nose. You can do this any place. You will then inhale carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide slows the heart down. Do it for about 20 seconds and repeat until your heartrate feels normal. Your breathing will slow down too. If people are near you, try to get their attention. It is best if you can sit.
If you are able keep your closed hand over your mouth until your heart is at a normal rate. You will not suffocate, normal air is drawn in through your fingers. A paper bag is ideal, but we don’t always have them to hand.
When your heart rate and breathing are normal, stay sitting until you feel calm and anxiety has passed. If you are going through a stressful time or if a panic attack comes out of the blue, please see your doctor.
You will now know how to help someone else. Note that plastic bags are not to be used ever. They may cause suffocation. A police officer handed me one once.
Published in PsychoLogically