Brad Siskin’s representation of a panic attack
For anybody preparing for an emergency, knowing what to do if you have a panic attack is crucial. We’re all vulnerable during intense stress. It might happen no matter how calm or brave you are, and for that time, you’ll be helpless. You won’t be able to think clearly or perform much of anything physically.
I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, try to recall a time when you were terrified for a brief period of time—maybe it was just for a second, but you believed you would die. Imagine having that worry for ten, fifteen minutes or more.
We’re not sure what all goes into having a panic attack, but we think it has to do with your body going into flight-or-fight mode for no apparent reason. Some people’s bodies appear to have lower trigger points than others, according to the study.
Adrenaline and other hormones are released, resulting in a boost in energy levels and heart rate. Your muscles tense as you sweat, your breathing quickens, and your thinking becomes foggy. Now that’s fantastic if you need to devote every last ounce of your energy to fleeing from or fighting a charging tiger, but it does major damage to the human body today.
If you’re suffering from panic attacks now, there are several medical treatments available in addition to the paper-bag technique. A tranquilizer such as Xanax or Valium can provide quick, short-term relief. Antidepressants can help with long-term management of anxiety disorders.
If you’re having trouble breathing or heart palpitations, don’t hesitate to get checked for lung and heart issues.
Your heart races, you’re sweating, your throat is dry; everything seems to be working against you. Your head feels foggy, and you find it difficult to think straight. You might have a headache or feel lightheaded. Nausea and vomiting are frequent symptoms. It’s often referred to as a sense of “impending doom.” You believe you’re going to die and there’s nothing you can do about it, which is why this feeling is so scary. As a doctor treating someone for mental illness, it’s frequently tough convincing them differently.
If you have had one panic attack, you most likely live in constant dread of having another because you do not wish to experience that feeling again.
How Can You Tell If It’s a Panic Attack?
Unless you’ve previously experienced one, you’ll have to eliminate other issues. This is crucial because the therapies are varied, and breathing into a paper bag during a panic attack (which might aggravate lung or heart problems) is one of the most common treatments.
With a high-quality physical examination, you can often determine the cause with certainty without requiring diagnostic testing in a medical facility. A pulse oximeter is one thing I’m going to start recommending to add to your emergency supplies. You just stick it on your finger and it displays your blood’s oxygen level. Your blood receives plenty of oxygen during a panic attack, so if your oxygen level is, say, 94 or less, there’s something else wrong. (Do not use a paper bag.)
A pulse oximeter can be attached to your finger to determine how much oxygen you’re receiving. (There are no needles or blood.) If it reads 94 or less, you’re not having a panic attack alone. There is a heart or lung issue at hand. DON’T use that paper bag; instead, find one that has an integrated filter and has been tested for safety (without holes).
Here are some more ideas to assist you in making an informed selection if professional assistance isn’t available.
If you have these risk factors and your chest pains last for more than a few weeks, consult your doctor if:
- The person is over forty-five years old.
- The individual has risk factors, such as obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a known family history of heart disease.
- The heart rate is 150 or over (SVT).
- The blood pressure is low.
You’re not breathing quickly during a panic attack since you require more oxygen. It’s because your fight-or-flight hormones have gone berserk.
Carbon dioxide is breathed out with each breath. That usually works fine. However, when you breathe too rapidly, your body’s chemicals are thrown off, causing a chemical imbalance known as acid/base imbalances. That’s why your muscles cramp and spasm occasionally. Why your fingers and toes tingle; why you become dizzy are all symptoms of this. All of these signs make you feel more worried and desire to breathe faster.
The carbon dioxide collected when you breathe into a bag is breathed back in. This can help you relax.
Some doctors are skeptical of the CO2 theory. They believe breathing in a bag works since you’re focusing on one thing. It allows you to relax by diverting your attention away from other problems. It’s whatever if it works, as long as it works.
Tips it could be the lungs (blood clot or spontaneous collapsed lung):
- The person is wheezing.
- The lips or area around them turn bluish.
- The pulse oximeter shows an oxygen saturation below 95.
- Try, try, try your best to calm down.
- Slow your breathing. Concentrate on slow, deep breaths.
- Place a bag over your head. Seal the opening around your mouth and breathe into a bag. This restores your carbon dioxide equilibrium. If you do more than a minute or two breathing in a bag, make sure you take some fresh-air breaths to ensure you are getting adequate oxygen. HOWEVER, if the diagnosis is incorrect and you have lung or heart issues, carbon dioxide isn’t the problem. In that situation, breathing in a bag may make things worse. So how can you tell? I’d follow my guidelines above.
- Breathing and relaxation exercises are also effective. Psychologists and respiratory therapists are excellent at teaching them. Take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, then blow it out slowly or pursed lips closed. There are several methods that need the use of an equipment to be taught—best done by pulmonologists. Andrew Weil, an integrative-medicine doctor, offers some easier techniques in this post.
Photo by Peter Burdon/Unsplash