If you want to know how to stop a panic attack, you need to know what causes them. In the 1960s, they didn't have a name for Panic Disorder...but they did know that people who had the panic problem showed elevated lactic acid levels. Research labs still use lactic acid and sodium lactate to produce panic attacks in healthy research individuals who have never had one before! "...People with Panic Disorder have an abnormality in how they produce or clear lactic acid in the brain." So is it possible that we are doing something to raise lactic acid levels in those of us who have experienced panic attacks? It appears so. Fix your lactic acid problem and you will fix your panic problem.
What are we doing wrong? We form lactic acid in our own bodies by the 4 following methods.
1. Eating Dairy products
Commercial lactic acid is derived from dairy...so your body can derive it from the dairy as well. On top of that, a tired or damaged liver cannot process lactic acid, so levels rise higher and higher. You can begin to lower Lactic acid by cutting back on dairy. My guess is that it's one of your favourite foods, like me! If you are concerned about getting enough calcium, you can make sure you vitamin D3 levels are good between 50 to 80 ng/ml) and take calcium orotate.
2. Sugar and refined starches
Eating sugar and refined starches in the presence of a low oxygen state (inactive lifestyle) forms lactic acid instead of ATP (energy). In other words, shallow breathers form lots of lactic acid. They are tired a lot. You can change for the better in 2 ways. Take in more oxygen (by meditation or gentle walking) or cut back on sugars and starches. Why not do both? This is why a lower carb diet can slow down and actually stop Panic Disorder completely. I looked on Google to see if anyone had been able to stop their Panic attacks by cutting sugar and starches through a low carb diet. This is what I found.
"I couldn't make myself stick to a low-carb diet and I started having panic attacks again."
"Since I started this woe (way of eating, from low carb site) my panic attacks actually have disappeared entirely. I feel like a new person"
Low carb helps because when you cut back on refined sugar and starches, your body makes ATP (good energy) instead of lactic acid. We need to breathe into our diaphragm instead of into our chest.
Many people don't realize that they are shallow chest breathers and they are making lots and lots of lactic acid. This is why meditation is a peaceful and beneficial way to bring oxygen levels up and stop those panic attacks.
Scientists know this. "A high lactic acid value can be caused by severe loss of water from the blood (dehydration)."
You may not be aware that you are creating lactic acid when you become dehydrated. This can be accomplished by not drinking enough water during the day or by simply eating foods high in salt (sodium). If you do both, you really are asking for it! Start looking at labels. If one serving of food is much above 20% of your daily sodium, don't eat it.
You could unknowingly be eating 3 times or more of the RDA of sodium. And above all things, do not eat foods with MSG (monosodium glutamate) in them - ever! The high Glutamate levels of MSG can really cause a problem, fast.
4. Muscle Tension
Do you feel tense and tight? A vicious cycle happens in Panic disorder because tense muscles form lactic acid and then fear of another attack causes more tense muscles which make more Lactic Acid! Guess what. You are inadvertently causing your own body a problem. But, relax! There is nothing wrong with your mind. You don't have mental problems. You just need to change your lifestyle. The statement below sums it all up.
A QUICK FIX!
If you eat a lot of dairy, sugar and refined starches, are somewhat inactive, you don't drink much water, you eat a high salt diet and you are tense a lot? BINGO.
This is the high lactic acid lifestyle ... or the Panic lifestyle. But, you can fix it for free with the following lifestyle changes.
Do the following:
Follow a somewhat low carb diet, avoiding sugars, and white flour.
Cut back on dairy.
Drink more water during the day.
At the same time, avoiding high sodium foods.
Practice some sort of meditation or relaxation exercise which is simply slow breathing and relaxation.
Do gentle to moderate walking.
You can get rid of this problem on a permanent basis! This works. I know! I am living proof. My story is below.
Dehydration and a high salt diet...The perfect recipe for a panic attack
I found out about dehydration the hard way, here is what I did to finally stop the problem of panic attacks. It took me a long time to figure out the Lactic Acid problem.
Before I knew lactic acid caused panic attacks, I went through some rough times. I inadvertently let myself become dehydrated from time to time either by eating foods high in salt or by not drinking. These were when the attacks would hit hard. "If you've never had a panic attack, you don't know what you are missing. They stink. Those that suffer from them would do anything to get rid of them. I accidentally discovered what would stop one instantlyanditwassosimple. BeforeItellyouwhatitwas,hearmystory.
I had my first panic attack several years ago. Had I known what I know now, I probably could have avoided it completely. We were in Kentucky on a trip. I hadn't drunk much water that day on the road. That night we had a salty meal of fried fish, and I had wine. We stayed at a "high rise" hotel that night and in the middle of the night, the heat was set too high and the temperature must have been 100 degrees in that room.....anyway, I had a severe panic attack, which seemed to linger on for about 3 weeks thereafter.
My doctor put me on Xanax and my sister-in-law who is a nurse told me to get off of it as soon as possible because it was highly addictive. I hadn't been on it very long, so I did. It really wasn't helping me that much
anyway. But, I had a friend who was a doctor’s wife, and she told me that highly salted foods with MSG in them really caused her major problems with panic attacks.
MSG is mono-sodium-glutamate. I think that her problem and mine were not just about MSG but about all salty foods as well. Salt causes dehydration. Glutamate is a stimulating neurotransmitter; it really overstimulates the brain and makes things much worse.
I looked online and I saw that hyper-ventilation, the nastiest part of a panic attack, is one of the clinical symptoms of dehydration. That made a lot of sense, after my Kentucky incidence.
I got to thinking about it. In every single case in my life that I had a panic attack, I had been dehydrated.
For example, in Kentucky –
I had been on the road all day
I hadn't drunk much water
I had a salty meal that night, which dehydrates you
I had wine, alcohol is another dehydrator.
The room we stayed in was baking hot that night and I
got overheated...another dehydrator
Put it all together and voila----the perfect recipe for a panic attack. I was dehydrated and eating high sodium foods. Double- trouble!
In fact, when I thought about it, I realized that every time I let myself get really dehydrated over the years, by not drinking or by eating ultra-salty foods, that in that same night, I would have a panic attack, and as always, I would jump up in the middle of the night, sometimes with no time to lose, and immediately drink a glass or two of water straight down, and in EVERY SINGLE CASE--- WITHOUT FAIL, the panic attack would immediately subside within 20 or 30 seconds. This was a life saver! I was beginning to get it.
My daughter just had a problem with panic attacks. She had never experienced them before. She actually apologized to me. She thought all these years that they were a mental issue, but she knew that she had nothing to panic about...that there was nothing mental about it. Her problem with panic started in the hospital when they wouldn't let her drink for 2 days. All she could have was ice chips, and on top of that, they gave her 6 bags of saline solution. When she got home, she was so loaded with salt that her ankles were thick and swollen.
She started having panic problems out of the blue. It took her several days to get all the salt washed out of her system, once that happened, the panic subsided and she is fine now. She started drinking a lot more. She apologized to me. All these years, she thought I had mental problems! And it was never that. It was a simple dehydration and too much salt problem.
She ate some salty tacos the other day, and 30 minutes later, she felt panicky. She then realized that her panic really was set off by the high salt. We just don't realize what all this salt is doing to our bodies. Our minds say, "I have no reason to feel panicky and our bodies are saying oh yes there is...too much salt is dangerous for me." We don't have the least idea how much salt we are taking in. It is freaking our bodies out.
It is best not to eat anything that has much over 12-15% sodium per serving on the label, 20% tops. Look at those labels from now on. People don't normally even think about checking the sodium levels of a food. But, if you eat something with 35% sodium or more for a serving, and you are prone to panic attacks...you are literally "asking for it."
When I thought about other random times that I had an attack, I had gone to Branson, and didn't drink all day, had a salty meal...bingo. In another case, I had gone out of town and hadn't drunk much water and had a salty meal on the way home...again bingo. And there was the time that I didn't drink much water at work for two days and had a panic attack that night. I'm a slow learner, but I finally saw the light.
JUST ADD WATER!
I try to drink more during the day now. I drink all day long...and guess what, no panic attacks. Not even a hint of one. One night, a few weeks ago, I started to feel like I was losing my breath. (We had gone to Jonesboro, and I barely drank anything all day.) I just grabbed a bottle of water and drank it straight down until the breathlessness and fearful feeling subsided in a few seconds. It worked instantly as always.
What will be of enormous benefit when prone to panic attacks? The answer is simple, just drink more water, don't allow yourself to get dehydrated and try to eat a generally lower sodium healthy diet. Breath more deeply, relax more often, walk and get some fresh air. Eat more natural foods as well. I will add that vitamin C also lowers lactic acid. And is a good thing to take as a preventative.
Isn't it great to know that you are not crazy and that there is nothing terribly wrong with you ... and that a few glasses of water would help?
What is the connection between dehydration and panic attacks????
It is fairly simple. Dehydration from a lack of water intake, excess sweating or too much salt (which causes excess urination in order to get rid of the salt) raises histamine levels and increased blood levels of histamine results in higher adrenaline levels. High Adrenaline is a precursor to a panic attack. This also explains why my doctor's wife told me to take Benadryl (a commonly used anti-histamine) for my Panic Disorder.
Dehydration also increases concentrations of lactic acid in the bloodstream and in the brain. Increased acidity in the nerve junctions of the brain stimulate the fear and anxiety response which in turn increases adrenaline release, again making panic attack much more likely.
Stop the Problem at Its Source
Only last week, I felt like I was going to have a panic
attack. I was at my daughter’s house, and I didn't have
time to look for a glass, so I grabbed a bowl, turned on the water tap and poured it in and drank it down fast....Thepanicattackstoppedinamatterofseconds. Thisisacheapproblemtofix,ifyouknowhowtodoit.
Apparently, others are coming around to the dehydration aspect. This is a quick article I wrote on Yahoo to a girl who was having terrible anxiety. Of all the responses she got, she voted this one the best. Here is the quote of what I told her. It received five stars because it is so simple and so doable.
"I used to have panic attacks and really bad anxiety. I found a simple solution by accident. If I felt extreme anxiety or a panic attack coming on, I would drink 1 or 2 glasses of water straight down, and it stopped it every time.
In about 2 minutes I would feel a calm come over me. It has never failed me yet. I found that eating foods high in sodium can trigger anxiety, or just being dehydrated can trigger anxiety and even full blown panic attacks.
As I found out, dehydration and the resulting increase of lactic acid in the system is a major cause of fearful feeling, hyperventilation and anxiety. I try to drink more all day long now, and I have no anxiety or panic attacks anymore. Good luck! "