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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A panic attack usually lasts 10 to 20 minutes and feels more serious than it is. Remind yourself that you are not in danger and that the attack will stop soon. Deep breathing can help stop a panic attack or keep it from becoming severe.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:
- You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
- Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
- You may also have any of the following:
- Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat
Call your doctor or therapist if:
- You have new or worsening panic attacks after treatment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines may be given to make you feel more relaxed or to reduce anxiety that causes a panic attack. Some medicines are taken only when you are having a panic attack. Other medicines can be taken to prevent panic attacks.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Manage or prevent a panic attack:
- Manage stress. Stress can trigger a panic attack. Ways to lower your stress level include yoga, meditation, and talking to someone about the stress in your life.
- Exercise as directed. Exercise can reduce stress and help you sleep better. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. Your healthcare provider can help you create an exercise plan.
- Set a sleep schedule. Too little sleep can increase anxiety. Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Keep your room quiet and free from distractions, such as a television or computer.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, and beans. Limit sugar. Sugar can increase your symptoms.
- Do not have foods or drinks that contain caffeine. These include coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and chocolate. Caffeine can make anxiety worse or trigger a panic attack.
- Limit alcohol. You may think alcohol makes you calmer, but it is not a safe or effective way to control anxiety. Alcohol can increase anxiety if you drink large amounts or drink often. Ask your healthcare provider how much alcohol is safe for you to drink. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase anxiety. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
Follow up with your doctor or therapist as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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