Identifying and stopping panic attacks


Midland, TEXAS (Big 2) – The Center for Children and Families has had more patients come in for anxiety and panic. Some experience panic attacks, a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers physical reactions when there’s no real danger or apparent cause. In this week’s segment of “Centers Solutions: COVID Edition, “Kristi Edwards and Melanie Saiz explain the impact the attacks have on people, and why people experience them.

” There isn’t really a specific known cause for panic attacks, but there are factors that might be related such as genetics. If you have a family member that has experienced them, it’s more likely that you might as well. Major stress, sudden loss of a loved one or a job, breakup, financial burdens, relationship issues of any kind, and as we can see now, world events. Many people are having a tough reaction and a difficult time coping with what’s going on in the world right now,” says Centers Marketing and Development Director Melanie Saiz.  

To prevent panic attacks, it’s key to know how to figure out if somebody is having one. As Kristi Edwards explains, sometimes panic attacks begin with no warning. 

 ” The symptoms might, and often do include, for the person having the panic attack, a sense of impending doom or intense fear or death, a feeling of detachment from reality, which is kind of one of the number one things that people will say that they get some tunnel vision. You can have a racing heart, sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath, your throat might tighten up, you can have chills or hot flashes,” says Centers Executive Director Kristi Edwards.  

Another common symptom is chest pain, so sometimes people confuse a panic attack for a heart attack. If panic attacks aren’t treated, they can have a negative impact on your life.

” Some of the complications that you might experience are frequent medical care, health concerns that come up, we always talk about the mental health and physical health connection and that’s very true when you’re allowing yourself to get to the point where you’re having frequent anxiety issues. Problems at work or at school, alcohol or substance abuse issues might pop up-and another thing is people might start to avoid social situations, which I know is already difficult right now, but you can’t isolate yourself and really be a healthy person.  And sometimes if you’re having panic attacks, that’s a natural reaction is to isolate,” says Saiz.  

As Edwards explains, there are ways to try and stop a panic attack. 

“For years, we’ve tried to teach people in therapy how to use deep breathing to bring yourself out of a panic attack. And one of the tried and true is called box breathing. And what you do is you’re going to breath in for four, the count of four, hold your breath for the count of four, breathe out for the count of four, and hold for four. Do that five times, and chances are, you’re going to slow your heart rate and maybe get your breathing under some control to where you’re not quite as panicky feeling,” says Edwards.

 Edwards also says that holding an ice cube, or putting your hand under really cold water can help divert your attention from the anxiety. If you don’t know what your symptoms are and you need immediate medical treatment, call 911. If you have experienced a panic attack, call your doctor, and you can contact centers if your anxiety is overwhelming you.  

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