Panic 101: what to do during a panic attack – and how to prevent them

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A sudden episode of intense fear actually leaves patients feeling debilitated and out of control. Practical steps are able to help regain calm and stay away from future attacks

Panic is similar to a runaway train. A type of intense anxiety that quickly spirals out of control. There’s very much we are able to do – from getting lots of rest to daily breathing exercises, to holding blood sugar levels stable – to decrease general tension and get rid of pointless stress reactions that could otherwise drop us right into a state of anxiety. But occasionally our anxiety goes by the point of no return and we find ourselves in a full-blown anxiety attack – an unexpected episode of intense fear, accompanied by physical reactions such as for instance fast heart rate and also shortness of breath.

A panic attack is essentially a discrete stress response in the body with no real danger or apparent cause. In a survey of over 3,000 urban residents across the UK, more than half stated that they’d had at least one panic attack in their life, with 14% experiencing them at least once a month.

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anxiety specialist Dr Jonathan Haverkampf
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