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6 Tips To Prevent Panic Attacks

Apr 28, 2008
For many people, panic attacks represent only one symptom of an overall disorder that affects their lives every day.

When we consider panic attacks, it's important to keep in mind that the adrenaline rush that causes it is triggered by the brain for an important reason. The human brain is hard wired to sense an event or a situation that can cause immediate and serious harm. Adrenaline provides the body with a boost of energy to either run from the danger, or to stand and fight. Either way - the adrenaline serves as a powerful hormone that causes the typical symptoms of an anxiety attack such as dizziness, increased heart rate, chest pains and difficulty breathing.

Most often the symptoms themselves can add to the feeling of helplessness and fear.

The key to preventing these panic attacks is to understand the source of the anxiety and to manage that anxiety in ways that sooth your mind and your body. There are many things that you can do every day that will reduce, and eventually completely remove, the panic attacks that occur in your life.

1. Confront your fears

This is the most difficult step to conquer panic attacks in your life, so it belongs first on the list. There is nothing quite as powerful as the guidance and advice of a good therapist. Most psychologists today have adopted an approach called cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a very effective method of confronting and handling the negative thought patterns that generate fear and anxiety. It is an effective approach that people use to confront and manage deep-seated fears and the many symptoms of various mental disorders. It also works for people who are simply suffering from acute panic disorders. So talk to a therapist - it is nothing to be ashamed of. The first step is to seek help. Once you've done this, all of the following steps will be much easier, because you will have a person to guide you through the process.

2. Breathe correctly

It sounds obvious - but often incorrect breathing can add to the physical symptoms of anxiety. If you aren't sure what it means to breathe "correctly", sign up for a meditation seminar that teaches deep-breathing relaxation techniques. When you breathe correctly, your abdomen should lift out. This is a sign that you are inhaling enough air. Then exhale very slowly and inhale again at a slow and careful pace. The right breathing techniques alone, practiced for fifteen to twenty minutes every day, can introduce enough relaxation into your life that this may completely remove panic attacks.

3. Maintain a healthy diet

Food is certainly a major contributing factor to how we feel mentally. There are a number of foods that can induce feelings of anxiety or depression, such as alcohol or sugar. Many times the anxiety we are feeling drive us to seek out these foods - perpetuating the problem even more.

Make simple changes to your diet such as removing alcohol, heavy starches and sugars. Increase fresh vegetables and fruits, which will improve your energy levels and lift your mood. And most importantly, drink plenty of water. The human body is made of 60% water. So it should come as no surprise that depriving the body of water can lead to many of the symptoms that aggravate an existing panic disorder.

4. Exercise Regularly

We hear this advice all of the time in the media. The fact is, when it comes to anxiety and panic - exercise really is critical. Regular exercise has been shown to increase feelings of well-being and an improved ability to relax. These improved feelings of calmness are a direct result of the fact that exercising reduces muscle tension and increases levels of serotonin in the body. Serotonin, in itself, is one of the most potent hormones that the human body produces which effectively counters effects of stress and anxiety.

5. Laugh

While this may sound simple, if you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, this can actually be the most difficult step to accomplish. When feelings of crisis or impending doom appear everywhere you turn, finding something to laugh about can feel impossible. However, studies have shown that laughter causes the body to release hormones and chemicals that lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, improve brain functioning, and most importantly reduce stress and elevates mood. Some studies have even found that laughter can reduce the risk of heart disease.

If you make a concerted effort to watch movies that are comedies, go on a date to a comedy club with your spouse, or simply read a book written by a great comedian - you will find yourself laughing more often throughout your daily life. And as a result of that laughter, you will discover that both your health, and your mood, improves dramatically.

6. Get your sleep, and spend time outdoors every day.

The majority of studies on anxiety and depression have shown that poor sleep patterns and lack of sunshine can lead to higher anxiety levels. Lack of sleep will actually cause increased anxiety and can serve as a catalyst to induce a panic attack. Sunshine also has an important impact on anxiety - lack of sunshine can lead to a deficiency in vitamin D. Few people realize that sunlight is our primary source of vitamin D. Numerous studies have shown that vitamin D levels in the body are directly related to lower levels of anxiety and depression. In fact, exposure to sunlight can further benefit health through increased immune system functioning, increased calcium absorption, and some studies have even begun to correlate sun exposure to lower risks of many types of cancer.

Even if you follow only a few of these tips - your risk of suffering from a panic attack will be drastically reduced. Follow them all, in addition to working closely with a therapist, and you will find yourself completely cured from the affliction of panic attacks.
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