Panic attacks are notoriously difficult to cure without some type of outside help. That's because one of the most common problems with treating panic attacks is that the more you think about your panic attacks, the more likely you are to have them. It's the catch-22 of panic disorder.
So treating your panic attacks at home is difficult, but it's not impossible. In this article, we'll look at some effective home remedies for panic attacks and describe what it takes to overcome your panic and anxiety.
About Curing Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are complex. One of the issues that adds to its complexity is that panic attacks are often reactionary, and occur more often the more you think about them and the more you worry about them.
While panic attacks can hit out of the blue, they are usually caused by an over-sensitivity to the way you feel, in a pattern that resembles this:
- You live your life worried about panic attacks.
- You feel something - anything - like a slight increase in heart rate or a mild discomfort.
- You _always_ notice it, because your panic attacks make you over-sensitive to them.
- You then worry or believe you're about to get a panic attack.
- This worry floods your body with anxiety.
- You get a panic attack.
The oversensitivity is known as being hypersensitive, and it's a condition that is extremely common in those with anxiety and panic attacks.
Essentially, you become overly attuned to your body because you're always worrying about another panic attack, and this makes you notice every single change that your body experiences, which flood you with anxiety because you're worried it may mean another panic attack. In addition, anxiety over worrying about panic attacks can cause an increase in heart rate on its own, which may act as the sensation that triggers the attack.
This is one of the main reasons that panic attacks can be so hard to cure on their own. In many ways they cause themselves, and the more you think about them, fear them, and in some cases even try to treat them, the more likely you are to have them.
What Makes a Home Panic Attack Treatment
It's never a bad idea to consult a professional for treatment. There are proven techniques that can help reduce the frequency and severity of your panic attacks, and even some of the home remedies listed below work better when you can be observed by someone that can help if your anxiety becomes too overwhelming.
Similarly, you should always visit your doctor before starting any panic attack treatment. Physical causes of panic attacks are rare, but unless you visit a doctor, you'll always have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that your panic attacks represent something else - some type of health problem. Seeing a doctor relieves some of this anxiety. But be warned, many people still convince themselves that the doctor is missing something, so don't expect seeing a doctor to take away all of your anxieties.
Finally, not all home remedies stop panic attacks altogether. Some simply reduce the severity or the frequency. But if your panic attacks are less severe, you'll fear them less, and if you fear them less, you'll be less prone to future panic attacks.
The following are some effective home ways to treat panic attacks:
The first thing you need to do is retrain your body to breathe in a more efficient manner, and learn how your breathing affects your panic attacks.
Numerous studies have shown that most panic attack symptoms come not from adrenaline, but from hyperventilation. Hyperventilation is when your body releases too much carbon dioxide. It usually occurs because you're breathing too quickly, but in some cases it can occur because you're breathing in too much oxygen.
Many people with panic attacks either breathe fast because they're in the middle of "panicking," or they try to take very deep breaths because they feel that they need to. What makes matters worse is that one of the symptoms of hyperventilation is feeling like you cannot get enough air. This causes you to naturally want to breathe more, and unfortunately this makes hyperventilation worse. Other symptoms of hyperventilation play a key role in panic attacks:
- Chest pains.
- Shortness of breath.
- Muscle weakness and tingling.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Rapid heartbeat.
Anyone that has had a panic attack recognizes these symptoms, and that's why it's so important to control and prevent hyperventilation. You can do this in two ways:
- Slower Breathing Right when you think you're going to have a panic attack, train yourself to slow down your breathing. Breathe in for at least 5 seconds, hold for 2 or 3 seconds, and breathe out for at least 7 seconds. Make sure you're breathing in through your nose and either out through your nose or out through pursed lips like you're whistling. These won't prevent panic attacks, but they'll make them far less severe.
- Retraining You should also take time out of your day to practice this type of breathing method even when you don't have a panic attack. Panic attacks and anxiety train your body out of its normal breathing pattern. Taking 30 minutes out of every day to practice this type of breathing can help your body relearn how to breathe this way, and should make you less likely to hyperventilate in the future.
When you have anxiety and panic attacks, your body can learn to breathe so poorly that you hyperventilate even without a panic attack. This causes panic attack-like symptoms, which can then trigger an actual panic attack. So teaching yourself how to breathe better is important.
Desensitization is something that is best done in the presence of a therapist, but can be done on your own if you're willing to commit to it.
It's the process of making your panic attack triggers less frightening, by experiencing each one over and over again until your body no longer finds them to cause much anxiety.
For example, let's say your most common panic attack triggers are dizziness, shortness of breath and being in the car. You would desensitize yourself to these things using some variation of the following:
- Dizziness Spin around in a chair and then wait until you calm down.
- Shortness of Breath Try hyperventilating on purpose.
- Being in the Car Drive around for hours on end in a safe environment until you feel calmer.
These need to be partnered with some type of relaxation exercise to make sure that you don't experience too profound anxiety when you attempt them. You also need to commit to it. If you do have a panic attack while you try these desensitization techniques and you allow that attack to stop you from continuing forward, you may increase the likelihood of that trigger causing panic attacks in the future. That's why it's often advised that you perform these exercises in the presence of a professional.
Still, many people are genuinely able to control their panic attack triggers on their own using this type of system. If you're confident in your ability to commit to it, it may be worth a try.
Exercise may not sound like a home remedy for panic attacks, but it absolutely is. Though some people do experience anxiety and panic as a result of exercise, others will find that exercise itself is exactly what they needed to permanently control their anxiety symptoms.
Exercise has several benefits that are crucial for anxiety:
- It reduces excess muscular and mental energy.
- It releases endorphins that calm the mind and body.
- It promotes better sleep.
- It improves hormone regulation and may burn stress hormones.
- It helps your breathing improve.
These are all very important strategies for anxiety control, and there is some evidence that one of the main causes of panic attacks and anxiety is a lack of exercise, indicating this may be more important than some people are willing to give it credit for. Ask yourself if you exercise daily. If you don't, strongly consider it.
Other Notes for Treating Panic Attacks At Home
The strategies above are only the beginning. You'll also need to make many life changes that promote panic attack free living.
One example is how you adjust to living with panic disorder. Remember, fear of panic attacks increases the severity of panic attacks, which means that sometimes the best way to treat them is to face your fear and let yourself have an attack. If you find that you get panic attacks when you to go the mall, for example, then you need to make sure that you continue to go to the mall so that your panic attacks don't control your emotions.
You'll also need to try to reduce stress around you. You'll need to spend more time with friends and family doing fun activities so that you aren't as focused on the present, and you'll need to learn how to distract yourself when you feel a panic attack coming on (distractions take you out of your own head and should decrease the severity of the attack). These are all important parts of treatment.
How to Stop Panic Attacks
Stopping panic attacks forever requires a great deal of commitment and smart choices. It involves learning more about your anxiety, and it involves getting a better understanding of what you can do to permanently reduce both anxiety and panic forever.