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A Latina Documented Her Panic Attack And Women Rallied To Support Her

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s clear we’ve never needed a spotlight on this day of observation more. As many of us continue to shelter in place and follow stay at home orders, face unemployment, and the stressors of extended isolation, it’s clear we’re all in need of a little support of our mental health.

To do her part in spotlighting this issue, actress Laura Alemán shared her own experiences with mental health.

In a post to her Instagram account, Alemán shared a video of herself going through a panic attack. In the video, Alemán appears inconsolable and upset. Soon after her post, we asked our users “Have you ever experienced a panic attack? What was it like for you? What are some tips that help you when going through one? If you don’t feel comfortable talking about it, we understand. Sometimes people don’t even know they are going through a panic attack.”

In response, Latinas spoke up and out about their own experiences with anxiety and depression and we’re so grateful

And so many of you gave helpful advice based on your own learning experiences.

“I like to do the 5-4-3-2-1 method as I feel it rising. In the past I would burst into them even during Yoga, now with journaling I can read over my thoughts and just let them out really. Sometimes make a chart of what is and isn’t in my control. Then looking at things as this is how it is and how can I work within this new reality.” –sunshinesmileluv

Some of the tips have even included regulating hormones and seeking professional help.

Two years ago I developed panic attacks that became more and more frequent with each day. I wasn’t able to sleep because I would get them when I was asleep. I went to the ER because I thought there was something wrong with my heart. I felt chest tightness and shortness of breath. I felt like I was always on the verge of passing out. All of the medical exams revealed there was nothing wrong with me. That was when I had to accept it was psychological. Funny thing is I studied and researched anxiety during grad school. I understood the neurobiology of stress, and anxiety from an academic standpoint. But it is something completely different experiencing it first hand, and there is no way to understand it just by reading it in journal articles and textbooks. I kept thinking of the HPA-axis, how the amygdala must be overactive and initiating a cascade of signaling molecules from my hypothalamus, pituitary gland, to my adrenal glands in order to release powerful hormones e.g. epinephrine and norepinephrine. Cortisol is released which facilitates a surge of glucose to course through my blood stream in order to prepare my body for “fight or flight”. Once this happens, there’s no stopping it with breathing exercises, you just have to ride it out and know it will pass. At first all I wanted to do was calm myself down and out of it, control it with my mind. But I couldn’t stay still, I had to move. So instead I started to run, I ran as fast as I could to release the energy my body was giving me once the panic attack would hit. This helped me immensely! And the episodes became less and less frequent in a week. But that wasn’t all I had to do. 
I started searching within myself for triggers. I started reading books, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle was a godsend. I stayed away from coffee and anything that was overstimulating. I hope this helps. I have way more to share so if anyone needs to talk about it, DM me.” – ninastrada

Some tips also include grounding yourself in reality.

Panic attacks vary due to the person but for the most part, look like this. A tip I can offer is grounding: see 5 items, touch 4 things, hear 3 different sounds, smell 2 things and taste 1 item. This can help you distract yourself from what you were thinking about and focus on the task in hand. Hugging herself can also help. If you don’t have a pet, you can use a stuff bear/animal.”- cyn_la_malcriada

And others shared that mental illnesses can lead to other physical problems.

“I used to get what my family and I diagnosed as “minor asthma attacks” that we dealt with at home. I had been told by a doctor that stress could trigger my asthma but he didnt understand why someone as young as 12 (at that time) could get “stressed” and chalked it up to sugary and fatty foods because I was a chubby kid. Years later I was made to realise I had serious anxiety, my panic attacks were then causing the asthma attacks. Awareness is necessary, misdiagnosing and downplaying these things causes further problems. Appreciate her bravery.”-ecolina5210

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