If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship or in any way involved with a narcissist or someone who has NPD (narcissistic personality disorder), you may find yourself dealing with a whole host of symptoms, up to and including some serious mental and emotional disorders of your own.
One of the most common after-effects of narcissistic abuse is PTSD/C-PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder/complex post-traumatic stress disorder).
But even if it doesn’t get quite as far as a diagnosis, nearly everyone who is in or who has recently escaped from the abusive clutches of a narcissist can relate to the idea of feeling overwhelmed and upset to the point of having a physical reaction – it almost feels like you might be having a heart-attack. And as it turns out, that’s not so far from the truth.
How can panic attacks affect my physical health long term?
When panic attacks become a chronic issue, a sufferer can start to experience serious long-term effects on her health.
“…the combination of tension, lack of sleep and fear lessens the effectiveness of the immune system, the result of which is the increased likelihood of getting an infection,” According to PsychGuides.com. “The increase in blood pressure has negative repercussions for the heart and kidneys. You may also soon suffer from depression and difficulty eating.”
How do you stop a panic attack?
Anxiety is on the rise in general, whether its as a result of narcissistic abuse or otherwise, and these days, more people are seeking ways to stop panic attacks without having to rely on prescription medications.
You might want to go with something more natural, such as intentionally changing your mind – but if you practice, you can work to stop a panic attack without any sort of intervention at all.
FACT: Panic attacks aren’t all in your head!
A panic attack is a very real physical ailment. Most people want you to believe it’s all in your head, but there are physical symptoms that accompany these episodes. Adrenaline floods your bloodstream and a wave of fear overcomes you.
Your body reacts to the adrenaline by increasing blood supply, which makes you feel your heart pounding, your face and body flush – you sweat, your mouth gets dry and more.
How do you stop a panic attack in its tracks?
Your mind has to stop the flow of adrenaline in order for the physical symptoms to subside. You have to find a way to control your mind during these episodes or prevent it from occurring completely.
STEP ONE: RELAX! First, you have to relax. Easier said than done when you’re going through a panic attack, right? But to stop panic attacks, you must get your mind and body to a more relaxed state. Deep breathing will help with this.
TIP: Some people control panic attacks completely with deep breathing techniques. Try to focus your mind on the reality of the situation – that it’s only a panic attack – nothing more serious.
Breathe as slowly as possible – inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Some people are able to hold the inhaled breath for a couple of seconds, which helps to calm your body and mind.
STEP TWO: SELF-SOOTHE (Talk yourself through it!) Second, you have to talk yourself through this episode. Your mind is trying to tell you that death is imminent, that the worst is about to happen. Without publicly making a scene, close your eyes (if possible) and tell yourself that this is not an emergency – that you are not going to panic and that you will remain calm.
How do you fend off panic attacks in the future ?
Keep talking to yourself. No, seriously! Continue with the self talk and that includes monitoring your internal dialogue. Most panic attack sufferers keep repeating panicked statements during these episodes. Replace those with something positive. Repeat the reality of the situation to yourself. Instead of, “My heart is about to explode,” say, “I’m only having a surge of adrenaline that’s making my heart beat faster and it will stop as soon as I calm down.”
Be prepared! Take precautionary measures that allow you to have proof that everything’s okay. For instance, meet with your doctor to ensure that your heart is healthy. That way, when you’re having a panic attack and fear that you’re having a heart attack, you can tell yourself, “My doctor said my heart is fine – this is only a panic attack.”
You can stop panic attacks without the help of any external sources if you learn to work through them. Your mind has a lot of power in controlling these episodes but it’s up to you to learn how to master the techniques that keep anxiety at bay.
So how about you? Have you experienced panic attacks? How do you get through them? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.