Panic attack symptoms

Panic attacks can start suddenly and usually peak at around 10 minutes but may last up to 30 minutes.

Panic attacks can be terrifying and many people who suffer them believe they are going to die or suffocate in that moment. They are effectively a protective mechanism triggered in response to something our body perceives to be danger.


The physical and psychological changes triggered by the release of adrenaline may cause symptoms including increased heart rate and breathing, tingling in arms and legs, sweating, shortness of breath, digestive distress, feelings of detachment, chest pain, dizziness and choking. Triggers may be obvious to the sufferer, such as phobias or past trauma but often these attacks can be of a random nature.

Physical factors that may contribute to panic attacks include poor blood sugar management, alcohol, caffeine or recreational drug use, lack of sleep and fatigue, chronic pain and uneven breathing.

How to prevent panic attacks

Many of these can be addressed with changes in diet and lifestyle and seeking professional help such as cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling and psychotherapy.

Deal with panic attacks_2Dietary changes include:

– ensuring good quality protein sources in the diet, such as: organic grass-fed meat, coldwater oily fish, nuts and seeds.

– balance blood sugar by ensuring you pair fruit and other carbohydrates with protein or fat and make sure you eat regularly.

– drink lots of water and keep to a diet high in neurotransmitter-friendly foods such as green leafy vegetables, bananas, legumes, wholegrains, avocado, eggs, coconut and concentrated Montmorency cherry juice.

There are a number of drugs which are prescribed for this condition but I prefer to use herbs as several of these medications can cause side effects.

Great anxiolytic herbs include: oat straw, passion flower, rose, California poppy, camomile, lime flower and lavender.

These are all great as teas or as a good high potency tincture dropper you can carry around with you. I also often recommend homeopathic anti-anxiety remedies and specific supplements containing GABA and l-theanine.

Take a breath

Mindful breathing techniques such as 4-7-8 breathing, where you breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 7 and out for 8 is based on pranayama is wonderful for getting the body into a state of calm and relaxation.

Try this when you go to bed and see if you remember falling asleep, I was a sceptic once and I am blown away by its effectiveness. This is a very useful technique if you start having a panic attack and can make a decision to try and stop it before it peaks.

If you can, don’t Panic

Often people can feel fatigued or glued to the floor and unable to move when having panic attacks but try and overcome this. Try getting outside, taking a walk and distracting yourself to try and get past it. If your muscles start going into spasm, try getting someone to run you an Epsom salt bath to relieve any muscular tension.

If you do have a panic attack, don’t be scared. You might not be able to stop it in its tracks the first time but the more tools you develop and the closer you get to understanding what is triggering it, the easier it will be to overcome it.

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