In this article I will cover:

What does a panic attack feel like? Symptoms known and unknown

What triggered panic attacks?

How long does a panic attack last?

What is the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack?

How do you stop a panic attack fast?

Why do we go to the ER when we have panic attacks?

What is the root cause of panic attacks?

Can you train your brain to stop panic attacks?

What is the best way to overcome panic attacks? How to get rid of panic attacks?

Panic attacks be mistaken with heart attack, stroke or cardiac distress. Which causes fear and worry that adds about 30% in intensity to overall symptoms. Why? Because our body is made to give us signals of danger so we in return can protect ourselves. Without these signals we won’t spot the danger and can end up in life threatening situations. The mind’s main task is to keep you alive and functioning, because obviously the mind cannot survive without the body.

If you google Panic Attacks the first 5 to 10 results will have a word “disorder” in its headliner.

But is it really a disorder? I, as a hypnotherapist, am very careful with what words I use whether out loud or in my mind. Words have a direct impact on our cells. It has been scientifically proven that negative words cause our body to tense and positive to relax. The word disorder is definitely not a positive one, more than that for many it means fear, disability, something is wrong, hopelessness and malfunction.

Panic attacks are not a disorder, they are the symptom. Just like a runny nose or coughing. The main purpose of panic attacks is to protect your psyche, to warn you and to get you out of danger as fast as possible, even if it means shutting down your systems completely.

What do panic attacks feel like?

The most common symptoms are increased heart rate, brain fog, hyperventilation, shaking, difficulties breathing and numbness in fingers, sweaty palms. Symptoms can vary from one person to another as we are all different and depending on our background we can develop different physical responses.

There are many less known symptoms of panic attack such as:

– Chest pain, similar to heart attack

– Skin irritations

– Stomach problems (diarrhea, bloating, colic pains)

– Lump in throat

– Headaches/migraines

– Hair pulling, skin picking

– Numbness of one arm or leg

– Rocking on the floor

– Repeating one phrase over and over again

– Extremely low/high blood pressure

– Throbbing ears

– Hot palms and feet

– Weakness in legs and arms

– Feeling of balance

– Crippling fear about dying

– Joint pain/muscle pain

And the list can go on and on, as panic attacks will affect the tissues and organs in the body that are already weak. So for example if you have a problem with digestion, this is the system you can feel most symptoms in. In my practice, I have noticed a very interesting observation. People with panic attacks will have symptoms in their tissues and organs depending on the inner conflict they are holding.

What triggers panic attacks?

The most comprehensive answer will be – anything. And I know it doesn’t help you but I will explain why. It will also shed light on why it is so hard for doctors and psychologists to figure out the root cause of the panic attacks.

As has been already mentioned, panic attack is a symptom, a symptom is a body language, your mind communicates with you in symptoms, you communicate with the world through emotions. Easy…

And not easy… because the trigger can be anything that your mind connected to as danger. Even a mere smell can remind your subconscious mind about something painful and traumatic from your past, something you have pushed to the back of your mind for better times.

Here is a case study from my practice: A young man is having a panic attack every Friday and Saturday just before a family dinner. During a family dinner he is all tensed up, very anxious and without appetite. He pushes through it and on Sunday he feels emotionally and physically drained. He needs at least 2 days to recover and on Monday evening he finally feels ok. However, the Friday evening rolls over and the crippling feeling is there again, causing anxiety first and then a panic attack. During multiple therapy sessions he learned coping and breathing techniques, he is now capable of pushing through it, so he feels it is better while it’s not it’s just that he manages better now.

He comes to me in hopes to resolve the problem because panic attacks cause him relationship problems, intimacy issues and communication difficulties at his job.

When we go into hypnosis we find out that at every family dinner he meets his older cousin. And though they have amazing relationship now, he used to abuse my client in childhood, emotionally and sexually. The memories were so deeply buried that the only way they showed up was anger outbursts and intimacy issues. When my client asks me: why is it still bothering me? I forgave him already, I don’t even remember it anymore in detail. I usually answer, even though you feel like you forgave, your 8 years old mind is still with you and that part of you (let’s call it inner child) is still hurt, still in pain. In the session we reframe the beliefs and integrate that isolated experience into the present.

Did it magically heal my clients? No. But it gave him an understanding of why he has panic attacks. In 4 weeks he stopped going to family dinners, he created a space for healing and in 2 months he confronted his cousin. Their relationship didn’t suffer, because it turned out his cousin was tormented by those actions as well and couldn’t find the courage to bring up the topic 20 years later.

After sometime I received a follow up message that my client is free from panic attacks and he found another job where he is valued and appreciated. He is also opening up to his partner about the trauma and their relationship improved dramatically.

I am a great believer that every healing starts with understanding…

Let’s get back to triggers. Now you can understand how we can get triggered by anything – a phone call from an old friend reminding us of old times, the smell of a perfume your mom used to have, when she only saw you twice a month in between her busy schedule. You can get triggered by a face on the street that reminds you of a person that hurt you in the past.

The story of the root cause will be yours and no one else’s, you can’t listen to other experiences and decide that you have it too. The best way is to find the answer within.

How long does a panic attack last?

It can last from a couple minutes to a couple hours, depending on the trigger and your coping mechanisms. The longer the panic attack the more exhausted your body feels afterwards. During a panic attack the oxygen is deprived from the organs that are not needed to save your body.

What is the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack?

The difference is only in the severity of the symptoms. When we don’t address anxiety attacks it can turn into a full panic attack. Usually panic attacks are very unexpected, because of the triggers that are in our subconscious mind. With anxiety attacks, we usually know we are under chronic stress, very tired or overwhelmed.

How do you stop a panic attack fast?

There are a couple of ways that help people return their nervous system into a safe mode and to regulate the symptoms. You will need to test them to find what works best for you. The only thing you need to remember is that they are all temporary and will help in the meantime but will not address the issues holistically. Here are the ones that helped people the most:

1. Counting to 100. This method is based on the interruption of attention. You distract yourself from body symptoms and focus on the routine task.

2. Shaking hands and legs. A great method to release the tension. You stand up and shake your hands and feet in a chaotic manner. It helps your blood to start circulation through your body helping you feel more in control of the situation.

3. Cold icy water. Immerging your hands or face into an icy water can help the symptoms by switching from the sympathetic nervous system to parasympathetic (from fight or flight to safe mode)

4. Breathing techniques. There are at least 100 breathing techniques on the internet that help you calm down and ground yourself.

Why do we go to the ER when we have panic attacks?

We go to the ER because panic attacks have exactly the same symptoms as heart attacks and at some point a person can feel heart aches. Numbness of the left arm and even losing consciousness. We only act based on the information we have about symptoms so in this case we know that if we don’t see a doctor, we may die. In many cases, ER personnel can be quite insensitive towards these patients as they cannot help a panic attack so they just dismiss them or tell them it is all in their head and they should see the therapist. Hearing this from authority in the health system can be quite disheartening and discouraging. But this is another topic for another article.

What is the root cause of panic attacks?

Let’s look at both sides of the health care system.

Traditional western medicine will state: panic attacks or anxiety are genetic, and some people are genetically prone to being anxious and panicky, while others are not. Or that panic attacks are the result of chronic stress. Some health professionals can talk about childhood trauma or inner conflicts. But childhood trauma is not something they can give a magic pill from so genetics and predisposition is so much more acceptable.

From the alternative holistic viewpoint panic attacks are the result of:

1. Repressed memories of trauma

2. Heightened sense of responsibility

3. Repressed feeling and emotions

4. Childhood abuse and neglect

5. Inner conflicts (I have to but I can’t… I want to but I can’t…)

6. Fear and phobias

Can you train your brain to stop panic attacks?

Yes you can train your brain to manage panic attacks but do you need to? When the problem remains and we just learn to manage it, we will always have a fear of having it again. Your subconscious will talk to you in different ways – if not with panic attacks then with other symptoms. The rule of a band aid.

What is the best way to overcome panic attacks? How to get rid of panic attacks?

The best way to deal with panic attacks is to find out what triggers panic attacks and then make a decision to deal with the trigger in the healthiest way.

The 3 self help methods are:

1. During or after a panic attack ask yourself one question: Why Now? It can sound weird but by asking this you get to realize what is happening in your life that your body needs these panic attacks.

2. Make a decision. Very often the easiest way to end panic attacks is to make a decision. They will not go away if you are: still in the environment that triggers you, working at a job that you don’t enjoy (it’s the nicest way to put it), staying in an abusive relationship out of fear.

3. Practice mindfulness. Only going inwards can help you uncover the root cause of the panic attacks and set you free from the old limiting beliefs or triggers.

Panic attack is a language and unfortunately, they don’t teach that language in school. But the best part is that you have the knowledge in you already. You know that language, you just need to find out how to access it.

If you are having panic attacks and you don’t know where to start, follow me on social media where I talk a lot about fears, anxiety and panic attacks. And if you are ready to take your healing to the next level, reach out to see how I can help you find the answers and fast forward your healing.