It can happen anytime, anywhere — when you’re alone, with others, at home, in public, even awakening you from a sound sleep. Suddenly, your heart begins to race, your face flushes and you experience shortness of breath. You feel dizzy, nauseated and out of control. Some people even feel like they’re dying.

You may have experienced a panic attack — a sudden episode of intense fear that prompts severe physical reactions in your body. Many people, thinking they’re having a heart attack, go to the emergency room. Others try to ignore the signs and symptoms, not realizing that they’re experiencing a panic attack.

More women than men are affected by panic attacks. Some people are affected by frequent panic attacks, a condition known as panic disorder.

Although panic attacks were once dismissed as nerves or stress, they’re now recognized as a potentially disabling, but treatable condition. A variety of approaches, including medications, natural aproaches, therapy and relaxation techniques, can help you control or prevent panic attacks.

What are the symptoms of a panic attack?

As described above, the symptoms of a panic attack appear suddenly, without any apparent cause. They may include:

* Racing or pounding heartbeat
* Chest pains
* Dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea
* Difficulty breathing
* Tingling or numbness in the hands
* Flushes or chills
* Dreamlike sensations or perceptual distortions
* Terror – a sense that something unimaginably horrible is about to occur and one is powerless to prevent it
* Fear of losing control and doing something embarrassing
* Fear of dying

A panic attack typically lasts for several minutes and is one of the most distressing conditions that a person can experience. Most who have one attack will have others. When someone has repeated attacks, or feels severe anxiety about having another attack, he or she is said to have panic disorder.

Causes

Researchers aren’t sure what causes panic attacks. Heredity, stress and certain biochemical factors may play a role. Your chance of having panic attacks increases if you have a close family member who has had them.

Many researchers believe your body’s natural fight-or-flight response to danger is involved. For example, if a grizzly bear came after you, your body would react instinctively. Your heart rate and breathing would speed up as your body readied itself for a life-threatening situation. Many of the same reactions occur in a panic attack. No obvious stressor is present, but something trips your body’s alarm system.

What is the traditional treatment for panic attacks?

Thanks to research, there are a variety of treatments available, including several effective medications, and specific forms of psychotherapy. Often, a combination of psychotherapy and medications produces good results. Improvement is usually noticed in a fairly short period of time, about 6 to 8 weeks. Thus, appropriate treatment for panic disorder can prevent panic attacks or at least substantially reduce their severity and frequency-bringing significant relief to 70 to 90 percent of people with panic disorder.

In addition, people with panic disorder may need treatment for other emotional problems. Depression has often been associated with panic disorder, as have alcohol and drug abuse. Recent research also suggests that suicide attempts are more frequent in people with panic disorder. Fortunately, these problems associated with panic disorder can be overcome effectively, just like panic disorder itself.

A Natural way to do it

Many people want a natural cure for panic attack problems. For many years, drugs and counseling have been the only panic attack remedy available for sufferers. But now there are a variety of remedies available right from your own home. After discussing risk factors, causes, and diagnosis with a medical professional, you can consider working some of these natural techniques into your life.

Reduce Life Stressors

One important way to reduce the frequency of panic attacks is to reduce the level of anxiety or tension in your daily activities. Lowering the amount of stress in your life is an easy first step to reducing the amount of panic attacks. Spend more time doing the things you love to do and less time doing the things that you do not like doing. Of course we all still have to go to work, but after a long day of work, spend your evenings doing what makes you happy. Soon your day of work will be filled with anticipation over your evenings instead of anxiety over work.

Relaxation

Relaxation exercises can also be a great way to reduce your stress levels and may even fend off a pending panic attack. Continually test your relaxation abilities to help build your skills in this area. Doing your relaxation exercises on a daily and consistent basis will reduce your overall stress level. Carve out a specific time of day that is just for you. It will soon become a time that you look forward to everyday.

Exercise

Exercise is a great stress reliever for your body. Regular exercise will get your heart rate up and your endorphins moving. Your body will be able to get rid of toxins faster and relax easier when you stick to a regular exercise program. You do not need to run a marathon, just try to get your heart rate up at least three times per week for 30 minutes or more.

Support

Although many people are anxious about seeking help from a support group, they can often be the best help for an anxiety disorder like panic attacks. Being able to talk with others who are going through the same things can be very helpful. The Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) has meetings in hundreds of cities across the country.

Diet

Drinking plenty of water will help flush toxins out of your body and eating healthy foods will keep your body operating at its best. Avoid high sugar and fat foods, as they will cause a build up of toxins in your body. Eating a balanced diet has always been a recommendation for people suffering from anxiety disorders, but it is generally a good idea for everyone!

Incorporating natural remedies into your panic attack treatment is easy and can be done gradually. Simply pick one thing and start doing it slowly. If you start incorporating exercise into your life and are able to stick with it, then add eating a balanced diet to your plan. Slowly try to incorporate all five natural remedies and you will quickly be on your way to a newer healthier you!

Other natural ways to fight Panic Attacks

Herbal infusions with Valerian, hawthorn, passionflower, lemon balm and sage had proven to have a positive effect on treating anxiety.
Other herbs or supplements that are frequently recommended for anxiety attacks include Chinese skullcap, flaxseed oil, chamomile, gamma pryzanol, hops, selenium, and suma, as well as inositol for panic disorder. However, there is no reliable supporting evidence to indicate that they work.

Alternative treatments include acupuncture, aromatherapy (either alone or combined with massage), biofeedback, massage (either alone or combined with aromatherapy), and relaxation therapies (such as meditation and guided imagery).However, the supporting evidence to indicate that these treatments actually work remains weak.

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