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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are panic attacks?

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    beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia.beyondblue is a bipartisan initiative of … View Profile

    A panic attack is an intense feeling of anxiety that seems like it cannot be bought under control. Panic attacks can include short bursts of the following:

    • feelings of dread e.g. that something bad is going to happen
    • breathing difficulties e.g. shortness of breath
    • feeling anxious 
    • trembling or shaking
    • having chest pains or a tight feeling in the chest.
    • feeling lightheaded and/or nauseous
    • having tingles or chills
    For many people, panic attacks happen only occasionally when they are stressed. For others however, an initial attack can lead to fears of another attack at a later stage. This can result in a vicious cycle where the person is constantly worried about the next attack.

    These reactions can lead to people having thoughts such as: “I must be going crazy.” or “Something bad is going to happen.”. Focusing on these thoughts and the cycle of fear and worry can make a panic attack more likely.

    About three out of 10 people will experience at least one panic attack at some point in lives.

    If a person has a panic attack at least four times a month, they may be diagnosed as having a panic disorder. Around 3 per cent of the population has a panic disorder.

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    Renee Mill

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Empowering people is my passion and life work. I have been working as a Clinical Psychologist in private practice for over thirty years. I have … View Profile

    Panic attacks frequently bring sufferers to the emergency room of hospitals. Some people literally feel like they are having a heart attack and may die.  

    If you ever experience this, breathe into a paper bag which will slow your breathing down. Then "panic surf". This means you ride the panic with no fear knowing that within miutes the wave of panic will be over. Literally visualise a  surfer ,and a huge wave, which gradually gets smaller  and comes into shore.

     

    The less you fear the panic, the quicker it will pass and the less frequently it will occur. 

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