Panic attacks are something I’ve dealt with for as long as I can remember. I’d been experiencing them before I’d had any knowledge of what they are.

Back in 2015, before my mental illnesses had become as deteriorating as they are today, I was well enough to physically attend college. It was at this time that I was experiencing at least three, possibly more, panic attacks per day; consecutively. Day in, day out, I’d be filled with dread and emotional exhaustion.

At that time in my life, I was at a loss of how to help myself. Researching ways to prevent, or see through a panic attack would be enough to trigger one, but today, I’m proud to say that my experience with panic attacks have lessened drastically. I don’t think I’ve gone through a panic attack in nine to twelve months, which is something I’m grateful enough to be able to say. Unfortunately, though, attacks and triggers are something others have to constantly fight through each day, so I’m here to offer some first-hand, personal advice.

This blog will be split into three sections; education, prevention, and recovery.

EDUCATION

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is a sudden, overwhelming sense of, as the name suggests, panic. Going through them can cause the sufferer to feel detached from themselves, as though they have lost all control of their consciousness.

Are there any causes?

Panic attacks can often be caused by various issues, such as stress, trauma, strenuous physical activity, and excessive caffeine intake. It’s probably important to note that these are just a few prime examples.

Does the sufferer show any symptoms prior to the attack?

There are many symptoms prior to somebody experiencing an anxiety attack. Withdrawal, loss of incentive, restlessness, irritability, struggle with communication, and exhaustion are some of the most common.

PREVENTION

Take time away from whatever is causing you to feel triggered. Whether you’re at home, or in a working environment, it’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health. Respect yourself enough to remove yourself from the situation and take five, ten minutes to gather yourself.

Confide in somebody. Opening up to someone, whether that’s a family member, friend, teacher, or colleague can be daunting, but can help. Mental Health isn’t something we’re often able to visibly see, but in no way does that mean we’ve got to go through this alone.

Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine is certainly something that has triggered panic attacks for me in the past. Decaffeinated coffee is just as good, if not better than the real thing. If you’re somebody who longs for the taste, rather than the surge of energy, consider switching. Herbal teas and hot chocolate are another alternative to coffee, and often, tastier.

Eat well, and regularly. If you’re running off no energy, or too much energy, this could just be enough to trigger an attack.

Regulate your sleeping pattern. Depending on your age, sleep for at least eight hours per night; more if you feel it’s necessary. Go to bed early, wake up early. Keep a consistent routine. Vast majority of my past panic attacks had been triggered through little-to-no sleep.

Exercise. Exercise has been clinically proven to help recovery from mental illnesses. Panic attacks are no exception.

Less social media. We’re all guilty, I know holds up hands. I won’t be the first to say that influence on social media (and television) has caused unnecessary pressure to build.

Meditation. Meditation is, personally, something I do for spiritual/religious reasons, but I do it to improve my mental health, too. I think, personally, this method has helped me the most.

Don’t bottle up how you’re feeling. Telling somebody how you feel is daunting, there’s no denying. If you’re not able to tell somebody what’s on your mind, write it down; keep a diary, rip out pages and scrunch them up into balls. Do whatever you find is beneficial. By opening up, we’re able to relieve small stresses that could otherwise build into bigger-than-necessary issues.

RECOVERY

Remember that a panic attack cannot last longer than twenty minutes. They’re said to reach their peak at ten minutes in, and decline from here onwards.

If you have long hair, tie/clip it back from your face. Seriously, do it.

Change out of tight fitting clothes. Bras, jeans, buttoned shirts. Panic attacks cause the sufferer to feel restricted enough as it is. Try to alleviate that the best you can.

Drink water. When you’re excessively sweating and going through horrific physical symptoms, it’s important to stay hydrated. If you don’t feel steady enough to drink, try alternatives, like ice lollies, or holding an ice cube in your mouth.

Take a hot bath/shower. Steam is known to help sufferers of asthma when having attacks, and has certainly helped me in the past.

Opposite of the point above, get some fresh air. Open a window, door, or go for a walk. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Big, strong breaths.

Remember that you’re more than your mental illness. Recovery exists, and whether it takes a day, a year, or ten years from now, you will recover. You are worthy. You matter.