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The causes of panic attacks
It can be hard to pinpoint exactly why someone is experiences panic attacks. There could be a number of factors at play, such as psychological factors, genetic predisposition, stress, or a traumatic event. If you think you may have experienced an attack, it’s important you seek help immediately to rule out any underlying health issues.
What to do for panic attacks
If you feel a panic attack coming on, there are some exercises you can try to help relieve symptoms:
- Stop and remind yourself what’s going on: If you notice a panic attack coming on, reassure yourself that while symptoms can be horrible, these are feelings you’ve experienced before and they will subside.
- Control rapid breathing: To help slow your breathing, close your eyes and concentrate on breathing in slowly and gently through your nose, and then out through your mouth. To help slow you down, count to five for each in-breath and then again for every out-breath.
- Focus your attention elsewhere: Rather than telling yourself to relax and stop panicking, distract yourself from the symptoms you’re experiencing. For example, you could try counting backwards or recall the words of a favourite song.
How to prevent or manage symptoms
- Speak to your GP: If you think you could be experiencing panic attacks, make sure you visit your GP. That way you’ll be able to get the right information and course of action to best manage your symptoms.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and improve mood. Aim for around 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day – this could be anything from walking to work or hitting spin class.
- Eat a balanced diet: A well-rounded diet can do wonders for your health, both physically and mentally. For those prone to panic attacks, it’s important to keep blood sugar levels stabilised
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine: Alcohol and caffeine can worsen panic attack symptoms, so try to avoid these.
- Get enough sleep: A good night’s sleep is important for your physical and mental wellbeing so try to aim for around eight hours of quality sleep each night. To help achieve this, it’s important you take the necessary steps to help relax before bed to ensure you get to sleep swiftly. For example, avoid sugary foods, caffeine, using your phone or watching TV in the hours leading up to bed.
- Relaxation techniques: Breathing exercises, meditation and other relaxation techniques can help to manage some of the symptoms of anxiety.
The best place to start is by speaking to your GP or health practitioner. They will be able to assess your individual situation and recommend the best next steps for your recovery.
Our team of mental health professionals are here to support you on our 24/7 Mental Health Phone Support line. It’s available to Medibank members with hospital cover 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 644 325~.
For more support and information
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Visit our Healthy Mind by Medibank homepage to find more tools and services.
Things you need to know
~ OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.
While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees).
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