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How to Stop a Panic Attack

1 November, 2017

How to stop panic attacks.jpgWe all experience feelings of anxiety and panic during different periods in our life. In fact, anxiety can be very helpful as it turns on ‘warning signals’ to protect us from harm.

In this article we will cover how to stop a panic attack before the even begin!

Some people experience panic attacks on a regular basis. When danger is real it sets off a whole range of physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions to keep us safe. These include increases in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and muscle tension. It also keeps our mind focused on the environment to scan for potential danger.

Unfortunately, for many people anxiety can be turned on too frequently or too intensely. This can harm our emotional and physical function. There are several anxiety-related mental health disorders such as:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder – this is a general anxiety that people experience in many situations
  • Social anxiety – this anxiety is specific to social situations and often involves negative thoughts about social evaluation
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder – this is anxiety/fears around specific actions. Examples include unrealistic fear of contamination from germs (leading to excessive handwashing) and obsessive checking to prevent danger
  • Panic disorder – this involves a fear of a having a panic attack which usually leads to avoidance of situations that may trigger a panic attack.

Psychological therapies and medications are often used to treat these conditions. However, there is also positive research about the anti-anxiety effects of an amino acid called theanine. Theanine is naturally found in green tea and seems to have a calming effect on the mind and body. It is associated with reduced stress hormones (cortisol and salivary IgA) after exposure to stressful situations and is believed to increase a neurotransmitter known as GABA.

GABA is a calming neurotransmitter that is actually increased after we drink alcohol or take anti-anxiety drugs, such as Xanax (collectively called benzodiazepines).

In a very interesting study, theanine was also shown to increase alpha brain waves. Alpha brain waves are induced during relaxation and meditation [1].

While theanine may not be the only answer to your anxiety-related problems it certainly may help to stop a panic attack. Using it along with a healthy lifestyle (i.e., good sleep, exercise, and diet), regular time-out, formal relaxation, and psychological techniques (e.g., cognitive-behaviour therapy) may help to reduce anxiety and calm a racing mind.

Theanine can be ingested by drinking green tea, however, for therapeutic effects supplementation is necessary.

100 to 200mg, 2-3 times a day has been shown to be helpful in clinical studies. 200mg of theanine equates to approximately 8 cups of green tea so it may be easier to take the supplements instead.

If you would like more information about how to stop a panic attack, please watch this video: 

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