Understanding Panic Attacks

Submitted by Bedford Youth and Family Services

byfs-logo-600Did you know that one of the top 10 terms searched in 2015 was “panic attack?” Millions of Americans suffer from panic disorder, yet people who experience them often do not know what is happening to them and feel scared and alone.

People having a panic attack often experience the sudden onset of physical symptoms such as:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling faint

Because the symptoms can be similar to a heart attack, many people go to the emergency room for treatment. An estimated one in 10 adults suffer from panic attacks. There are several successful treatments for panic disorder including medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes. If you have been experiencing panic attacks, try a mental health screening to see if you could have the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder at www.bedfordma.gov/youthunder the “screenings” section.

If you think you might be having a panic attack, try breathing deeply, distracting yourself with a task such as writing out the lyrics of your favorite song or making a list of things that requires focus. For example, try naming all the people in your office, kids in your child’s class, or street names near you. You can also try a mindfulness exercise – focusing on one of your senses that will not contribute to your anxiety.

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