Anxiety disorders like panic attacks affect millions of people around the world. In the U.S. alone, it affects around 40 million American adults with ages 18 and above. This number accounts over 18% of the U.S. population.
The same thing is happening in the U.K. Fortunately, Australians and Canadians are not widely affected. Obviously, panic attacks are among the very common mental health problems many people are facing. Panic attack definition says it involves sudden periods of intense fear.
The sensation may include shaking, sweating, shortness of breath, palpitations, numbness and even an anticipation of something bad is about to happen. These are just a few of the symptoms when panic attacks happen.
In some cases, panic attacks invoke suicidal thoughts1, especially in mid-adolescence2. Here’s what a panic attack looks like when it happens. One man is brave enough to film himself not for publicity but to raise public awareness on this condition.
What Causes Panic Attacks?
Unfortunately, the exact cause of panic attacks is unclear but experts say it has a tendency of being hereditary. Moreover, it also tends to have a connection to stress.
This is why having a good stress management especially involving natural means is vital for preventing a panic attack.
Additionally, certain medications can also trigger panic attacks. Hence, if you’re taking medications and experiencing the feeling of anxiousness, talk to your doctor.
3 Ways To Deal Panic Attacks
If you’re going to your doctor, for sure, you’ll receive a prescription for panic attacks medications. However, medications for panic attacks come with side effects. In one study3, researchers find that panic attack medications called SSRI(Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) are overestimated in terms of efficacy.
Researchers say SSRIs are no better than placebo. Therefore, if SSRI’s are not effective and no better than placebo, then why not try and utilize natural means?
Fortunately, for us, we don’t have to guess what works. Dr. Andrew Weil, an American celebrity doctor, holistic and integrative, as well as alternative medicine guru, shows us what works.
Practice being present. Training yourself to be at the present moment can help when a panic attack happens. Being in the present moment means thinking of nothing or anticipating something that could happen next. One of the best practice to help train yourself in the present moment is meditation.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is an interactive session that is shown to be effective in the prevention of panic attacks. In one study4, researchers find multicomponent cognitive behavioral intervention is effective in preventing panic attacks. Another study5 supports it.
Regular practice of deep breathing exercises. With regular practice, deep breathing is helpful in inducing entire body relaxation. It’s not only useful in panic attacks but also other problems like premature ejaculation in men. Dr. Weil has a specific technique of deep breathing exercise. He calls it 4-7-8 breathing pattern. Here’s how to do it.
Solutions are good especially if they are natural as they don’t induce nasty side effects. However, there is no better than prevention, right?
1. Dietary Changes
Make sure you’re eating whole foods and natural. Hence, focus eating foods that are mood-boosting and energy-boosting. On the other hand, aphrodisiac foods are not only for sexual enhancement but also nourishing to the entire body including the brain.
If you don’t have any idea which diet or eating lifestyle to start with, check the latest diet trends. Also worth noting, avoid foods containing a high amount of added sugars. It has been found to trigger depression. So, putting effort to minimizing sugar consumption can be very helpful.
2. Regular Exercise
Making regular exercise a habit is not just good for physical fitness but also for mental fitness. For instance, weight lifting reduces anxiety symptoms. And, if you don’t have a lot of time to exercise, don’t let it be your excuse. Try HIIT, the fitness trend listed it as the top exercise.
On the other hand, don’t ignore simple physical activity such as walking and meditation as both are helpful in reducing anxiety symptoms.
3. Walk Barefoot
This is called grounding. Simply walking barefoot on the ground, sand, or grass can help ease stress and anxiety when done regularly.
Hence, spend your time with nature walking surrounded by green trees and plants. When possible, walk barefoot on the grass. Walking alone, although it looks simple when done in nature has many health benefits.
Moreover, Tony Robbins shares his simple tips on beating anxiety, which is also valuable in dealing with panic attacks.