Icing Your Chest to Ease A Panic Attack: Is It Effective?

Panic attacks are intense and scary experiences that can leave you feeling truly helpless. During a panic attack, your body is flooded with adrenaline and other stress hormones, leaving you feeling like you could die at any moment. If you’ve ever suffered from a panic attack, you know how incredibly debilitating they can be. They can also be quite frequent for some people, and many people who have them frequently find that their symptoms get worse if they are stressed or experience high levels of anxiety.

These attacks come out of nowhere and often strike when we’re in a crowded place, or somewhere that feels like it’s closing in on us. Luckily there are several things you can do to ease the symptoms of a panic attack so that you don’t have to suffer through them as much.

How to Recognize a Panic Attack

First, let’s talk about how to recognize a panic attack so that you can begin to understand your symptoms. A panic attack is an overwhelming feeling of fear or doom that occurs either spontaneously or in response to a specific trigger.

Panic attacks can occur in a variety of situations, but most often occur when the person is in a situation in which they are unable to escape easily if they begin to feel overwhelmed. Panic attacks are accompanied by very intense physical symptoms, including but not limited to:

  • Shortness of breath or feeling like you can’t catch your breath.
  • Intense feelings of doom or fear, or an intense sense of impending danger.
  • Racing heartbeat or rapid heartbeat that doesn’t go away or gets worse when you are still.
  • Sweating, trembling or trembling in other parts of the body.
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Trembling or twitching.
  • Nausea or abdominal pains.
  • Chills or hot flushes.

Breathing Techniques to Manage Panic Attacks

If you feel like you’re having a panic attack coming on, or if you’re in the midst of an attack, there are some breathing techniques that may help you to calm down. These techniques will help to regulate your breathing so that you can calm down and regulate your body’s response to the stress.

A few techniques to try are: Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and then exhale for 4 seconds. Focus on your breath entering your body and then slowly exhaling out of your body. Imagine your breath traveling to every part of your body, and then slowly exiting your body. Focus on your breathing and being present in the moment.

Imagine yourself in a relaxing location, like being in the ocean or under a waterfall, or on the beach. Use any combination of these techniques, and change them up so they don’t become boring. Try doing these breathing exercises when you feel stressed or when you start to feel the symptoms of a panic attack coming on.

Icing and Wrapping Your Chest to Ease Panic Attacks

Perhaps the most interesting and unusual way to ease the symptoms of a panic attack is to ice and wrap your chest. This is something that will probably sound very strange to you, but it works for many people. The idea behind this method is that the tightness in your chest that many people experience during a panic attack is caused by your body’s reaction to your racing heartbeat.

When your heart is beating fast and your blood is flowing quickly, your body will often respond by trying to pull in everything tightly; this is part of what causes the sensation in your chest. By applying ice to your chest, you can reduce the swelling and tightness that your body is causing in your chest. The cold will also help your blood vessels constrict, which will help to slow your heart rate and make you feel more relaxed overall.

Bottom line

Expected panic attacks often strike in specific areas, which is why some people experience them in the same place every time. You can ease the symptoms of a panic attack by using controlled breathing to slow your heart rate, icing and wrapping your chest to reduce the swelling in your chest, and/or distracting yourself from the attack.

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