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Three ways to regain control when a panic attack strikes

by , 06 June 2013

You know that horrible feeling when your mouth goes dry and your heart starts racing before an important presentation at work or other stressful event? Well, imagine experiencing these symptoms as well as sweating, shaking, dizziness, shortness of breath and feeling like you're losing control for no apparent reason. For those who suffer from panic attacks, this scenario is all too familiar. Luckily, there are techniques you can use to help regain control during an anxiety attack.

Panic attacks can seem all the more terrifying because of their unpredictable nature. They can happen once or twice in your lifetime, or may plague you frequently,” says Dr Jonathan Wright of Nutrition & Healing.

In addition, they can happen anywhere and for no obvious reason or can be triggered by specific situations, like a fear of crowds.

While panic attacks aren’t life-threatening, they disrupt your life and increase the risk of problems like depression. Whatever the cause of your anxiety attacks, it’s important you learn how to regain control when you experience an attack and take steps to prevent them.

But with conventional treatments causing dizziness and confusion, what’s a safer alternative?

Use these effective techniques to help you manage panic attacks

Regular exercise is extremely beneficial for preventing panic attacks. The reason? It increases the production of ‘feel-good’ chemicals called endorphins in your brain.

That’s why Dr Wright recommends you aim to do half an hour of exercise a day. This includes going for a brisk walk or swimming to reduce the likelihood of an attack.

Yoga is another effective form of exercise for a number of reasons. It relaxes tense muscles and helps oxygenate your entire body, which helps calm your mood. It also teaches you specific breathing techniques that can help you ward off a panic attack.

According to Dr Wright, it’s also important that you don’t hyperventilate (take short, rapid breaths) during an attack. This causes you to breathe out excessive amounts of carbon dioxide from your lungs, which unbalances oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body. As a result, this makes you feel lightheaded, dizzy and anxious.

This is why sufferers are advised to breathe into a paper bag during an anxiety attack. “The carbon dioxide gas is collected in the bag and then inhaled again, which helps replenish carbon dioxide levels in your body,” says Dr Wright. So carry a paper bag around with you as a precautionary measure.

But that’s not all.

Natural measures are equally effective in successfully reliving anxiety and panic attacks. And one such natural treatment is inositol, a compound related to the B-group of vitamins.

“In double-blind trials, doses of 2-4g [of inositol] three times a day were found to control such attacks as effectively as drugs but without any side effects,’” advises Dr Wright.

While inositol is an effective treatment that’ll provide relief, it’s advisable that you speak to your doctor to check if it’s the right treatment for your anxiety attacks.

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