Let me tell you a story about calming a panic attack…
Rachael (not her real name) froze.
A horrendous sense of dread started to fill her mind. Was she going to die now?
Her heart started to beat so fast that she felt it would rupture through her chest.
She couldn’t breathe.
By now, her breathing was so rapid that she started to feel dizzy. She struggled to gasp for fresh air.
No sounds came out of her mouth.
She felt sweaty as beads of sweat erupted through her forehead
..then her body began to build up pressure, like a volcano about to erupt.
Next, the shaking started. No matter how hard she tried to take control, it wouldn’t stop. It felt like a pneumatic drill going through her body.
Everything seemed blurred and distant.
Was she going to faint?
‘Rachael. Rachel! Rachael!’ shouted her friend as she grabbed her arm and pulled her back to the car.
Rachael had experienced a panic attack that lasted around 10 mins.
But 10 mins felt like an eternity for Rachael. All she wanted was to stop the panic and feel calm.
As her breathing returned to normal, so did the usual thoughts and feelings.
It was just like someone had flicked a light switch because she was feeling so much better now.
She knew that her friend was worried about her. A few days earlier, her friend had commented on the long hours that she was working. Today they had met up and were going shopping, but Rachael felt like she had ruined it for her friend now.
‘You must go and see your doctor, Rachael.’ Begged her friend, but Rachael didn’t want to make any more fuss, so suggested that they both go and have a coffee together.
Rachael just wanted to calm her panic attack and forget the whole incident.
But this was the second time that she had a panic attack. She didn’t want any more and now felt scared that this would happen again.
How did Rachael get to this stage?
Panic attacks are real.
They are frightening, and no one wants them!
According to the Mental Health Foundation, over 8.2 million people experienced panic attacks in 2013. Women have more panic attacks and are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental health problem than men.
Sometimes panic attacks are a one-off problem. They are often fairly short. The average time for having a panic attack is 5 – 30 minutes. However, sometimes they are much longer and can last an hour or more. Nevertheless, there is the thought that people suffering for this length of time may be going in and out of a panic attack, so really, they have several panic attacks.
Rachael worked long hours. She worked for a small publishing company. They produced trade magazines, so they had many important deadlines to meet. Rachael was in charge of the advertising. She knew she had to pull out all her skills to get some companies to buy advertising space.
With the Pandemic, this was even more of a struggle. Companies were cutting their advertising budgets, and some had ceased trading themselves.
Rachael was always under pressure in this job. She knew it would be pressurised when she started 4 years ago, but the demands had been increasing over the years and now there were less staff to cope with it all.
No longer was she selling advertisement space; she was now doing all the marketing in the business.
Rachael had personal problems and other pressures too. Her mother had recently been taken into hospital with a heart attack, she had a recent argument with her boyfriend, money was tight, and all this on top of the possibility of losing her job.
Rachael felt out of control.
She started to worry about things and wasn’t sleeping very well.
What causes a panic attack?
Panic attacks are related to fear. We all get fearful sometimes and worry about things, but sometimes this becomes overwhelming. It’s the body’s response to stress and anxiety.
If someone has several panic attacks, and they become more frequent, a doctor will make a diagnosis of a panic disorder.
Rachael’s panic attack was caused by overworking and her demands by the job and family issues. She had friends that could help, and she could have spoken to her boss, but she didn’t want to bother them or be seen as not coping.
What calms a panic attack?
Many things help. Its a case of finding what works best for you.
But the first step is to identify what is going on. This will mean getting a health check to ensure there is no medical cause.
Rachael was lucky that she had a friend with her who distracted here attention and sat her down.
Later Rachael decided that she would tell her trusted friend what was going on, which made her feel better. She wondered why she hadn’t done that before.
Rachael’s friend suggested seeing her doctor or contacting a counsellor.
Self-help for calming a panic attack
The number one thing you can do during a panic attack is to focus on slowing down your breathing and telling yourself that it will pass. People don’t die from a panic attack.
Rachael didn’t know anything about panic attacks, so seeing her doctor helped. She now knew that she wasn’t going crazy!
Rachael chose to get help with hypnotherapy and counselling. She contacted Awaken the Change, but she could have chosen from a long list of help from many sources.
Help from others
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Complementary therapies
Finally, back to Rachael
Rachael’s story is based on true stories that clients have reported over many years.
Unfortunately, when people don’t address the stress and anxiety they are under, things can worsen.
Typically someone like Rachael will come to Awaken the Change for counselling or a mixture of counselling and hypnotherapy to help them relax, take control of the stress and anxiety and learn to change their reactions to a problem.
Learn how to calm the panic attack and feel better. Contact me.