Panic attacks are a symptom of anxiety or fear and can occur unexpectedly during intense physical and emotional stress. It can be difficult to go out on horseback, especially when you’re alone, but one TikTok user says she has a trick that can be distracting enough to calm down.
“Taylor Talking” podcast host @taylor.talking went viral on TikTok for posting how, on the advice of a therapist, she began eating a Warhead sour candy to stop an impending panic attack. Warheads are extremely sour hard candies available at drugstores and on Amazon.
“When I say nothing has ever gotten me out of panic attacks faster, I mean it,” Taylor says in the video.
@taylor.talking Oof #anxiety #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters ♬ original sound – TalkingTaylor
What exactly is a panic attack?
Panic attacks are triggered by a specific part of the brain called the amygdala, FOLX Health clinician Melissa Miller told In The Know by Yahoo.
“The amygdala is the processing center for emotions and contributes to basic human survival, as the amygdala largely triggers the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), aka the fight or flight system,” he said. she explains. “When we need to flee real danger, the SNS tells our body to pump our blood faster, stop digestion and increase heart rate.”
Miller noted that while the amygdala is an “amazing part” of the brain that helps keep people safe, it can also have difficulty identifying real versus imagined danger.
So when the brain views an imagined or perceived threat as a real danger, it can still trigger the flight or fight response, which is when a panic attack can occur.
Symptoms of panic attacks, Miller added, can be different for everyone, but generally include:
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Gastrointestinal or gastric stress
- Fear of dying
- Derealization or feeling of having an out-of-body experience
But the challenge with panic attacks, Miller continues, is that the more people focus on the panic attack, the worse the symptoms can become.
“Panic attacks are often triggered by a thought, memory or bodily sensation. There is usually a panic trigger, but it is very difficult to delineate because the panic experience is sudden and abrupt,” she said. -she noted. “Often people go to the emergency room thinking they are having a heart attack or stroke. »
Does eating sour candy help with a panic attack?
“Using sour candy during the panic attack acts as an anchor to distract from the fear spiral and helps the brain understand that there is no real danger,” a Miller explained. “The sour candy kind of adds a different sensation to the mix to distract from the panic attack.”
Because panic attacks are often triggered by an internal thought or emotion rather than an external physical danger, it is “very easy for individuals to become overwhelmed by additional thoughts and feelings, creating a focus on the past (the traumatic event) or about the future (‘I’m going to die from this panic attack’),” Miller added.
From a clinician’s perspective, she noted that the “ultimate place” they hope to guide clients to is the present moment, where they can “defuse the physical sensations of the panic attack.”
To do this, clinicians like Miller use self-soothing or grounding techniques to help calm the body and, subsequently, the mind. Common grounding techniques to help bring a person back to the present include deep, mindful breathing, holding and describing a melting ice cube, or, as Taylor demonstrated on TikTok, eating a sour candy.
“Overall, the sour candy acts as a brain disruptor to allow the individual to come back to the present moment and get out of the fear spiral of the panic attack,” Miller said.
On Taylor’s TikTok, many commenters shared their own disruptors, including Altoids, ice cubes, sour Skittles, Listerine melts, and even lemons.
@angelfromthebloc #stitch with @Chloe all my anxious villains, run, don’t walk to the corner store and get yourself something sour! #angelfromthebloc #xyzbca #anxiety #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #fup ♬ original sound – angel 🇵🇸🍉 FREE PALESTINE
Miller added that using an anchoring technique, whether sour candy or otherwise, is most effective when combined with knowledge of why panic attacks work (to promote cognitive safety) or to mantras such as “I am not in real danger” or “My panic will pass.
“I am happy to see that more and more therapists are encouraging this type of coping. You can’t calm down if you’re blinded by panic,” observed @pink_kitten4.
Eating sour candy to stop a panic attack can also provide a bonus.
“And then you can eat the tastiest hard candy as a treat,” @thenukemuffin noted.
“It’s like a reward!” replied Taylor.
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