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Natural Methods for Treating Panic Attacks

written by: Tania Cowling • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 5/2/2011

Many people experience some anxiety in our fast-paced world, however, when panic sets in the symptoms can be overwhelming. Medications are used to quell panic, but there are also some natural alternatives that can be quite successful.

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    Overview

    The medical dictionary defines panic as "acute anxiety, terror, or fright, usually of sudden onset." Panic attacks are abrupt and intense and are said to be a part of the generalized anxiety disorder. When the body reacts in a "fight or flight" mode at the wrong time, it produces an excess amount of adrenaline and the uncomfortable symptoms of panic arise. Physicians use medications to sedate the nervous system quelling the symptoms of panic, although there are natural alternatives for panic attacks that are well worth learning about.

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    Breathing Exercises and Relaxation

    When acute panic arises, try deep breathing to counteract the attack. Inhale slowly through the nose to a count of four. Hold your breath to a count of four and slowly exhale. Rest for another count of four and repeat the exercise again until the attack subsides. Place your hand on your belly and watch it rise and fall. Concentrate on your breathing and let your stress escape with each exhaled breath.

    Some people find that practicing yoga, which entails position, breathing, and concentration can ward off panic. Relaxation exercises which can easily be listened to on recordings helps to release tension, as each muscle group go into a relaxed state. Let your mind relax and concentrate on positive places and thoughts. This process, also called guided imagery, can be practiced with the use of audio tapes.

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    Diet and Supplements

    Food allergies or sensitivities can sometimes trigger panic attacks. It is best to avoid refined sugars and simple carbohydrates that are known to stimulate the nervous system. Caffeine is another substance to keep out of your diet.

    Changing your diet can be a good natural alternative for panic attacks. Try to include avocados, asparagus, apricots, bananas, broccoli, blackstrap molasses, brewer's yeast, brown rice, fish (especially salmon), garlic, green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and yogurt in your diet which supply valuable minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium which are needed to keep the body healthy. Most of these nutrients are depleted by stress.

    Taking supplements can help to ensure that your body has an essential supply of nutrients to ward off stress. Multi-vitamin/mineral pills and extra B vitamin complex are believed by some to help maintain a healthy nervous system. Vitamin C is believed to aid the proper functioning of the adrenal glands and brain chemistry, and zinc is thought to have a calming effect on the nervous system.

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    Use Powerful Affirmations

    The power of the mind can overcome specific problems and is one of the best natural methods for alleviating panic. For example, if you become nervous when you go grocery shopping your mind wanders and anxiety and panic sets in. To block this pattern, begin with positive affirmations about shopping like, "I enjoy going to the supermarket. I feel perfectly calm and happy." Replacing irrational thoughts with positive thoughts helps to distract from panic.

    Common examples of general affirmations are:

    • I am a loving, caring person who deserves success.
    • Every day, in every way, I am becoming the person I want to be.
    • I am perfectly confident, calm, and happy.
    • My body is perfectly healthy and normal.
    • My mind is functioning perfectly, and I am finding new creative ways to live.

    Affirmations have been taken from the book Anxiety & Panic Attacks: Their Cause and Cure by Robert Handly

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    The Bottom Line

    Panic attacks can make you a victim of life instead of experiencing its joys. If you find that you suffer from stress attacks, envelop yourself with these natural alternatives for panic attacks. They are healthy and should be able to help with your condition.

    Sources:

    • "Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder" http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/panic-attacks/DS00338/DSECTION=treatments%2Dand%2drugs
    • Anxiety & Panic Attacks: Their Cause and Cure by Robert Handly [Rawson Associates]
    • Don't Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks by R. Reid Wilson, Ph.D. [Harper]
    • Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch M.D.
    • Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary; 14th Edition
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