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How Can I Manage Panic Attacks During a Manic Episode?

Are bipolar disorder and panic disorders connected? What does a panic attack look and feel like? How can you handle the symptoms? This blog will answer all these questions.

The Connection Between Bipolar and Panic Disorders

A 2018 study in the academic journal called Evidence-Based Mental Health examined the connection between panic and bipolar disorders. They used data from 40 studies to perform this meta-analysis. The results found 13% to 15.5% comorbidity between the two diagnoses. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 4.7% of the general population experiences panic disorder at some point.

This study indicates that people with bipolar disorder experience panic disorder approximately three times more often than people without bipolar disorder. Considering this, people with bipolar disorder must learn to recognize and manage panic attack symptoms. If you’re in this position, please keep reading.

Symptoms of a Panic Attack

Despite the similar names, panic attacks look different than anxiety attacks. The symptoms appear more akin to those of a heart attack. This is so prevalent that many people call emergency services when they’re having a panic attack because they think they are having a heart attack.

Panic attacks include the following symptoms:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fear of death
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Anxiety
  • Sense of danger
  • Shortness of breath
  • Shaking
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Disorientation
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Dissociation
  • Dry mouth
  • Hyperventilation

One of the distinguishing differences between panic attacks and heart attacks is that panic attacks can happen when a person is at rest. Heart attacks frequently occur during physical activity.

Helping Decrease Panic Attack Severity

One way to help yourself get through a panic attack is to keep your thoughts as calm as possible. Remind yourself that this feeling will pass. Additionally, box breathing is known to assist people in shortening their panic attacks. You inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold for four, out through your mouth for four, and pause for four. Repeat this cycle for two to five minutes for the best results.

The five senses grounding exercise helps with calming panic attacks, too. To do this exercise, you name the following:

  • 5 things you see
  • 4 things you feel
  • 3 things you hear
  • 2 things you smell
  • 1 thing you taste

This exercise uses mindfulness to get through the symptoms of a panic attack. If your environment triggered the attack, you should consider closing your eyes for a minute. This decreases the amount of stimuli absorbed. During this time, you can engage in mental imagery to lower your stress levels.

Panic disorder is strongly connected to bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder are three times more likely to experience panic attacks. As such, counselors that treat mood disorders should teach skills for coping with panic attacks. This short blog offered a few techniques. The Guest House can offer further treatment options for people with bipolar disorder, panic disorder, or both. We provide inpatient and outpatient care, fitting the treatment plan to each client’s individualized needs. When you’re ready to take steps forward in your healing journey, call us at (855) 483-7800.