A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions without a real danger or apparent cause. Typical attacks can last for 10 to 20 minutes. But severe ones can last for hours. And, in any given year, 2.4 million Americans will develop a full-blown panic disorder.
Sweaty palms, shaky hands, dizziness, chills, nausea, impending doom. This year, 11% of all Americans will experience a panic attack. Mayo Clinic reports that frequent panic attacks can lead to lifelong health problems, with an increased risk for suicide, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders.
“We think about anxiety, depression, these other emotional disorders as having, as arising from a number of vulnerabilities,” Jill Ehrenreich-May, an associate professor of phycology at the University of Miami, told Ivanhoe.
Experts say you can regain control by stimulating the vagus nerve located on both sides of the voice box by chewing gum or humming. This sends signals to the brain that the body is not actually under attack.
Breathing can also calm your sympathetic nerves. Doctors recommend the four-seven-eight method.
Next, psychologists say distract. By pushing your body physically or laughing you are regulating emotions.
Finally, have a plan, being prepared, even if just with a journal or fidget spinner, can greatly improve the outcome of a panic attack.
Psychologist also say that by having strong routines and rituals you can prevent future panic attacks. Experts highly encourage putting a familiar ritual in place before panic-inducing activities to help achieve calm.