Wednesday 21 February 2018

Dealing with a panic attack in the moment

Psychologist Dr David Carey has some advice for what to do in the event of an attack:

"If you are having a panic attack, try as best as you can to find a place to sit down," he says. "Breathe deeply and slowly for several minutes. If someone is with you, have them take your hand while you are breathing.

"Say to yourself, over and over: 'This will pass, it is only a passing feeling, I am going to be OK.' Take a moment to ground yourself by looking around you and naming five things you can see, five things you can smell, five things you can touch and five things you can eat.

"This may prove difficult, but by concentrating on the external world, you switch your focus of attention from the distressing sensations you are experiencing.

"In the long term, people with panic attack difficulties can benefit from lifestyle changes. Getting regular exercise is helpful. It does not have to be stressful exercise. Walking is quite beneficial. Get out and walk, a brisk walk, for 30 minutes three to four times each week. Cut down on caffeine intake and avoid any other sorts of stimulants.

"Eat properly and sensibly - four or five small meals a day is often better than gorging on a huge evening dinner.

"Cut down on alcohol consumption. If you are interested in a form of mindfulness, take a class - it can be hugely helpful."

The Dublin-based expert offers a few simple ways to alleviate stress:

l regular exercise such as walking;

l taking a mindfulness class;

l eating sensibly;

l reducing caffeine and alcohol intake;

l getting out and socialising with friends;

l focusing on what is good and healthy in your life;

l if symptoms are severe, consult your GP.

Irish Independent

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