How to deal with panic attacks? Know Answer
written by anaiakashvili Recruiter, Writer.

Panic attacks are common among people of all ages, and now, during the pandemic, it has increased even more. According to statistics, young women suffer from panic attacks, most of all. People who have suffered from panic attacks would describe feeling breathless, claustrophobic, having increasing fear that something sinister is going to happen, fear of illness or death, they hear their heartbeat and often seek help. It is surprising to find out that there is no physical problem in these cases, but for sure, there is a mental problem.

I have experienced panic attacks and would feel stuck with no way out of the situation. I perceived the situation as terrible and was incapable of doing anything with it. I would suffer for several minutes and then came back to common sense again. The difference between physical illness and panic attacks is that with physical illness, the pain is long-term and you need to go to the doctor for treatment. In contrast, panic attacks last just several minutes, and after it's finished, you realize it is your body giving you signals to feel alarmed even though there is no alarming situation at all. But for sure, this alarm comes from your inner world, you have an existential problem or an inner conflict that manifests in physical form. 

I will share several ways to deal with panic attacks from my own experience. The most important thing is that you realize you are having a panic attack, you have had this experience before and you know it goes away in several minutes.  If you feel out of breath, feel a little pain in the chest area, you are fearful, or see no way out of the situation, this is the way of your brain to let you know, you are uncomfortable with your life decisions or environment you are in. In that case, try to calm yourself and understand that. It doesn't mean you have physical health issues, for instance, a heart-attack or coronavirus.

After realizing you have a panic attack, tell yourself that this will go away in fifteen minutes and try to rationalize every event. You have just a psychological problem that you can manage to overcome. Breathe slowly, stop whatever you are doing, and think of happy memory, place, or comfortable situation. After the panic attack is gone, you can think of what is bothering you in your life and how you can solve your disturbance. You might have cognitive dissonance, which means that your actions are not aligned with your beliefs.  To demonstrate the thinking method you should use, I will give you several examples, situations, and thoughts that you should follow to deal with panic attacks.

Imagine you have an important exam, you have prepared and revised the material, and you are standing in front of the exam room waiting for your turn to go inside and pass. You feel your heart beating fast, you can't breathe, you are shaking and can't pull yourself together. You already forgot everything you studied, you are afraid of your health because you think you will pass out, you feel sick, and you have a stomach-ache. What do you do? You can't run, you can't go inside the exam room either. You are psychologically in fear that you will fail. Fear is so powerful that it controls your body. I've been there, dealt with the likely situations, and understand exactly what you are going through.

The method of thinking you want to address here is to imagine the worst-case scenario that can happen. Consider you fail your exam. As a result, you are ashamed in front of the examiners, parents, and guilty of not justifying someone's expectations. Even if that happens, so what? Is this the most important thing in life? Of course not. Concentrate on the things you already have and are thankful for. For instance, you have family, friends, you are healthy, the sun is shining, you have some exciting activities to look forward to in your life. Focus on the things you have already accomplished or remind yourself of your goals. Feel empowered, that everything is in your hands. If you fail, so what? You can try again. If you need some time to relax before the exam, you can always come up with an excuse that you need ten more minutes before the exam and they can wait for you. If not, that's okay too. You may do things only whenever you are ready. Only you are in control of your life. This kind of thinking will help to give less significance to the exam itself and put less pressure on yourself. So the fear slowly goes away, the heart beating becomes slower and you feel relief. 

By understanding that the situation is not that fearful as you felt, you can release yourself from this terrible state. After you overcome a panic attack, think of the dissonance you have in your life at this stage and try to reduce it. There are two ways to do it, either you have to change your attitude and actions or you change your beliefs. This way, your inner self feels freer and more adequate. In the example mentioned above, you can change your belief that if you fail the exam, which is not a fact, it's not tragic and it doesn't carry this much significance. On the other hand, you can always change your actions to match your beliefs. in this case, if you fail you can always try again and pass another time. But still, you need some inner strengths and tolerance towards yourself to manage and overcome any difficult situation you find yourself in. 

Nowadays, you might get a panic attack because of the pandemic and current depressing situation around the world. Imagine, you feel all the symptoms and believe you have a coronavirus. You are so disturbed with your physical pain that you are sure you have a health problem. Now, try to rationalize events that occur on daily basis. You wake up, look at your phone, go to social networks and you get negative information every morning. People around the world are dying because of this virus. You turn on the TV, same narrative. You talk to your friends, everybody is concerned and afraid of their health and that's all you talk about. Besides, you can't go to work, you stay at home, nothing is normal anymore. Your daily routine changes and you feel miserable, depressed, and afraid for yourself and the people around you. You have to wear a mask and feel out of breath. Here's a perfect environment to develop a panic attack. You start to feel ill and conclude, you have a deadly virus.

Even in these difficult times, you can just about manage to overcome this fear. Try to understand that all of the negative information you receive daily, all the regulations, and obligatory change of lifestyle are the reasons you are having a dissonance and a panic attack. You want to do activities you are no longer able to do. Here, you have already analyzed the case of this panic attack. How do you overcome it? The first obvious approach is to do the covid test and make sure you don't have anything. After that, realize that you can not control the circumstances and can't change anything. So, all you are left with is to change your belief and try to concentrate on the positive aspects of the changing lifestyle. Understand that you have much more time for yourself and your family and you can use it to your benefit. Naturally, this is a very difficult thing to do, but still, you can overcome an attack. After excluding the possibility of having a virus, you already know you have a psychological problem. From here you must find the courage to adapt to the situation and continue accomplishing your goals and doing everything possible to feel inner peace and happiness.

I also wanted to mention, that maybe this is the time we accept the concept of death as well. The worst-case scenario here is that you or your loved ones get the virus and even if your health condition is not satisfying, it's almost inevitable for everybody to defeat this virus. I know it's depressing but, if we try to accept death slowly, step by step, we will value every minute we share with our favorite people and practice kindness and gratitude. This is a complex issue but if we are brave enough to understand the reality and still feel happy to be alive, we win. 

In conclusion, you are always in the power of your mental and physical state. Even in the world pandemic situation, you are the controller of your body and thoughts. If something is bothering you, you know the best what it is. If you take time to think about what is that you don't like in yourself or the world around you, you can always fix it. To maintain our mental health, we should try to reduce this cognitive dissonance and try to be in line with our beliefs. It is natural to change our beliefs time by time because we are all developing, improving, and changing as we gain more life experience. And it takes courage to follow our beliefs by actions and be true to ourselves. It is okay to have a panic attack and it feels great to overcome one. I hope you will choose to listen to yourself and respect your thoughts and beliefs despite surrounding people, culture, and the general situation that dictate to you how to live your own life. Even though the time of our lives on earth is limited, we have the right and power to make the best out of it, and don't let fear prevent us from doing so. 

It also must be taken into consideration, that if your panic attacks repeat often and you find yourself bothered continuously and can't seem to overcome this problem yourself, be sure to get professional help. 
At last, it is beautiful to have hope and be able to overcome fear. We have to try a little bit harder, be a little braver. The more light we choose to see, the less space is left for darkness.

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