Strategies to Navigate Trauma-Related Panic Attacks

Trauma-related panic attacks are a terrifying experience. When they occur, we can often feel
powerless and out of control, leading us to be impacted not only physically but mentally as well.
Often times during a panic attack, we move to panic, these coping strategies will be focused in
mindfulness to help aid in navigating a trauma-related panic attack. Whether you are a trauma
survivor or know someone who struggles with panic attacks, this article may be helpful for you.

Understanding a Trauma-Related Panic Attack:

Panic attacks usually happen with a sudden intense discomfort or fear. Research has
demonstrated that panic attacks occur more often in those who have experience trauma at some
point in their life. Trauma can trigger panic attacks and symptoms may include
shaking/trembling, inability to feel like you can breathe, chest pain, nausea, or a racing heartbeat.
Panic attacks are a completely normal response to fear, stress or shock and are not a sign of
mental illness. As we try to cope with trauma-related panic attacks, it is important to identify
triggers. By identifying our triggers, we are able to reduce the frequency of trauma-related panic
attacks. Trauma-related panic attacks can be triggered by a specific event or it can be reminders
of trauma that occur in everyday life.

Trauma-Related Panic Attacks and Mental Health

Trauma-related panic attacks can negatively impact our overall mental health. They can lead us
to feel anxiety, constant panic, hypervigilant, isolated or depressed. A lot of people report anxiety
surrounding even the thought of having another panic attack. Trauma-related panic attacks can
lead to PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder if left untreated. It is recommended to consult a
trauma-informed therapist if you are experiencing reoccurring panic attacks.

Coping with Trauma-Related Panic Attacks

Once we have identified our triggers there are numerous coping strategies we can use to navigate
a trauma-related panic attack. These coping strategies may involve deep breathing exercises and
grounding strategies. Grounding strategies include getting into touch with the present moment by
focusing on our senses and environment. For instance, naming 5 things we can see, 4 things we
can hear, 3 things we can touch, 2 things we can smell, and 1 thing we can taste or identifying
“red” or “blue” objects within your present environment are to examples of grounding strategies.
As we feel more connected to the present moment, we can decrease our overall panic.

Consulting with a Professional for Trauma-Related Panic Attacks

It is vital to seek professional support if you are struggling with trauma-related panic attacks.
Various treatments are available, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Eye Movement
Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Brainspotting, and medication.

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