Having to overcome extreme panic/anxiety attacks naturally isn’t easy. You know what I’m talking about: Panic attacks that leave you wondering if you’ll make it out alive. This is an experience I wish upon no human being (or animal for that matter).
Panic can grab hold of us at a moment. Trust me when I tell you “I’ve been there.”
My first full blown anxiety attack:
It happened after suffering with a goiter (inflamed thyroid gland) for a couple of months. I’d been to the emergency room twice complaining that my throat felt swollen every day from the instant I woke up in the morning. They all said “learn to control your stress levels better, this is a text book anxiety symptom.”
So, I was laying on the couch one night, after drinking several cups of coffee (not abnormal for me) and it started:
- Heart suddenly raced out of control.
- Alternating numbness in feet, hands, arms.
- Massive stabbing pains throughout my back, upper arms, and chest (it felt like lightning bolts shooting across my chest!)
- First I was really hot, next really cold, all while sweating at the same time.
- The entire time I was overwhelmed, fighting to catch my breath.
I jumped in bed after the worst of it was over and waited, like a scared little boy, for the boogeyman to jump out of the closet. He didn’t, but I soon learned that once panic is allowed in, it’s VERY reluctant to let go. However, I’m still sitting here typing this post to help you and other anxiety sufferers out, so it wasn’t a death sentence, right?
If you’re currently suffering a panic attack as you read this, just know that you’re not going to die. It can be hard resisting the urge to rush to the emergency room. Particularly if you’ve been there before and were told to “calm down and learn how to manage your stress levels better,” like I was several times!
Something is actually wrong though, right?
Of course there is!
You’re not crazy no matter who tells you “it’s all in your head.” Nobody can blame your friends, family or the doctors they see for not getting what’s up. The many varied signs of anxiety are hard for most healthcare professionals to make sense of. The symptoms simply don’t make sense to the classically trained family and emergency room doctors most anxiety suffers flock to when problems begin.
Let’s be brutally honest: When panic attacks are weighing you down and you’re coping with anxiety on a daily or semi-daily basis, the last thing you want is healthcare professionals ‘guessing’ what’s wrong.
What causes anxiety attacks?
- A recent loss in our lives,
- Medications (legal and illegal),
- Being overburdened by general “life” stress,
- Phobias of all kinds,
- Occasional, clinical or manic depression,
- Bipolar disorder (and other mental health problems),
- Social anxiety issues,
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD),
- Undiagnosed health problems,
- The list goes on and on.
You need to empower yourself this minute to begin working toward finding your own relief from anxiety symptoms, naturally, without drugs if possible. It can be done! That isn’t to say you have to go it alone, but you also can’t merely rely on others to figure out what’s going on inside YOUR mind and body, either.
In order to overcome anxiety attacks naturally, the very first thing you need to do is toughen up and get ready to fight the good fight!
I’m not trying to be insensitive, or to give out empty advice — you really do need to toughen up in order to make the panic pass faster. See, I view a panic attack as one person’s war against themselves. Nobody else can fight the battle for you, after all.
No doctor can jump inside your head in real-time to see what’s causing your panic attack (after running echos, x-rays and blood tests, to no avail). The war is yours and if you accept that, you will end up victorious in the end. This is true no matter how long anxiety has been ravaging your body and kicking the crap outta your spirit.
First thing’s first…
You definitely need to go see your family doctor at the first opportunity and have them check EVERYTHING out. Anxiety, and the panic that follows, can indeed be physiological and not psychological, despite what many medical professionals will try to make you to believe.
Go check out this post and read how my anxiety began if you feel like something other than your brain is malfunctioning and causing your anxiety. Fact is, I was told again and again that I was fine, other than my “inability to handle stress.” It later turned out I had hypothyroidism, which was causing the swollen-throat-feeling (goiter) that eventually drove me to daily anxiety symptoms (Ie., a full-blown panic disorder!)
If the first doctor you see says you’re fine, go see another. I went through five or six before the cause of my supposed “mental illness” was discovered.
My 3 personal best anxiety remedies.
I sure hope you’re not in the middle of one right now — wouldn’t wish that on anyone. If you are, let’s try a few simple anxiety busters I’ve discovered, honed and used with success over the years.
Please trust me, I’ve been there sitting hopeless and naked on the floor of the shower, trying to force air into my lungs when my diaphragm was seized up tighter than a (you know what). I know, this is no time for joking around, but sometimes if you poke that bear just right, the euphoric feeling from the laughter can offer some reprieve!
It takes time to learn to deal, and things are going to get better after you learn to make the symptoms screw off and go find another victim to toy with. Then you can move on to treatment and preventative measures, instead of constantly being in reaction (fight or flight) mode.
Whenever those telltale signs of an anxiety attack started, I soon learned to get the HELL outside and exercise tout-de-suite. I’d walk or run as fast as I could with my dog, for however long it took to feel somewhat right again. As the frequency and severity of the attacks worsened, exercise began to actually make them worse.
Thus, I had to learn other coping methods to get my body under control, and my head back on straight. Without further ado, start with the following tried and true anxiety/panic busting tips right now, if you’re in the middle of an attack.
Otherwise, bookmark this post for later and come back when/if you need some help.
1. Grab that panic by the neck and squeeze the life out of it!
Listen, you need to grab control of something inside your body right now. I’m not saying to lose your shit like you’re going to get in a fist fight, that will just release more adrenaline. Rather, I want you to literally and figuratively grab control of at least one bodily function ASAP (heck, squeeze your toes into a fist if you prefer).
Squeeze your fists like you’re cresting the top of a scary-as-hell roller coaster to prepare yourself for the g-forces to come when you start to plummet downward. Squeeze like heck — get all the blood you can running to your hands!
After thirty-ish seconds, release your squeeze until your hands return to their normal color (Ie., they’ll turn white after ten seconds or so of a tight squeeze). Repeat, over and over, while simultaneously following the next two tips.
2. Breathe: 5 – 10 – 5
Hyperventilating isn’t going to help you calm down. And, despite how you might feel in the middle of a full-blown panic attack, you can be 100% in control of how fast you’re breathing.
Hold the squeeze while breathing slowly – no matter how bad your brain tells you to breathe rapidly, you need to keep your intervals limited to the 5 – 10 – 5 range (breathe in for five seconds, hold for ten, breath out for five seconds — repeat indefinitely):
- Breathe in as easy, yet deeply as you can on the inhale, taking air into your belly and not your chest.
- Purse your lips together like you’re sucking a straw and breath out more forcefully than normal (like you’re blowing up a kids balloon, but not as hard as you would a beach or yoga ball).
I know it’s not going to stop that pounding feeling (palpitations) in your chest immediately, but the 5 – 10 – 5 will help lower your heart rate or keep it from surpassing where it’s at currently. Performing 5 – 10 – 5 breathing will also help keep oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood stable, so your head doesn’t start swimming from the dizziness that comes from hyperventilating.
3. Positive reassurance: You’re not going to die.
This is going to sound repetitive to what you’ve heard before, but you need to reassure your brain that what’s happening right now isn’t going to kill you. Panic attacks are diagnosed when we think something is seriously wrong (usually that we’re having a heart attack) and then a litany of medical tests shows that we’re fine — even though we’re really not.
I can assume that you know when you’re having a panic attack — or that you’ve had them before — because you’ve found your way to this site, rather than Googling for “Signs I’m having a heart attack” or something similar that anxiety sufferers all over eventually find themselves doing. You know there’s nothing really wrong (at least with your body), but nobody including yourself can tell you that in the middle of a heart-pounding panic episode, right?
Keep reassuring yourself, no matter how hard the demon tries to make you jump on that dizzying merry-go-round of helplessness. You’re in control; you can’t be manipulated by that voice trying to make you freak out and lose it!
Practise makes perfect: It becomes easier and easier to overcome anxiety attacks through repetition.
I’m not suggesting you’re the type of person who can, or even would induce a panic attack just so you can practise getting over them.You and I have both been victimised by this affliction, so we both know about the “dread” of thinking another one’s just around the corner.
That said, you have to be consistent in how you react and deal when anxiety takes over. You can be the constant victim and run to the emergency room, which will often end up making the problem worse in the long run. Or, you can learn to regain control and stop the attack in it’s tracks — at least to the point where you can get up off the couch, or out of bed and go burn off some cortisol.
Let’s get the obvious disclaimers/suggestions out of the way:
- I’m not a doctor: Just someone who’s ACTUALLY had dozens of frightening out-of-control panic attacks, and spent a few years dealing with daily anxiety symptoms.
- Please, never use ANY anxiety medications or drugs to help you with your panic: And, I mean ANY drugs including benzodiazepines, opiates, booze or any other nervous system depressants. Drugs include common stimulants like cigarettes, Mary Jane (yes, pot is a stimulant), or anything with caffeine in it.
- Go see a doctor that shows a WILLINGNESS to help. This starts with your family doctor, but you might end up in any number of mental health specialist’s office. Don’t be ashamed, be empowered as they can help you find your root cause and/or identify the most common triggers that make you have attacks in the first place.
As always, this post is likely far too long for the average human being’s attention span.
If you have any questions or comments, then leave one at the bottom and please, share this post with a friend (or whatever) in need.
You’re the best,
P.s. Keep on fighting the good fight!