Fainting or syncope is a loss of consciousness that can be caused by a myriad of different conditions. It usually happens when there isn’t enough blood being pumped to your brain. If you suffer from anxiety, then fainting can occur more frequently, and it can worsen anxiety symptoms, causing you to panic.
Some symptoms of fainting include dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, and sweating. It’s not a huge cause for concern in many cases, as it can happen to pretty much anyone. Some people are more susceptible to fainting than others. If you experience fainting regularly, then here are 12 ways you can stop it and fight anxiety:
1. Eat healthily
Anxiety can sometimes cause people to skip meals. You either forget to eat, or you don’t feel like eating. If you experience fainting and anxiety, then you must eat regularly and eat healthily. If you continuously feel hungry between meals, try eating fruits or foods rich in protein.
What you eat affects your blood pressure and pulse rate, so make sure you’re eating the right things. Low blood pressure can cause fainting, so you should increase your salt intake. Salt will increase your blood pressure and bring it back to normal. You can eat foods like salted nuts, bacon, instant noodles, and sausages.
2. Stay hydrated
People who don’t drink enough water are more likely to have fainting episodes than people who keep themselves hydrated. If you’re an average healthy adult, then you should drink at least 1.5 liters of fluid every day. If you exercise regularly, then you probably require a higher amount of fluid than that.
When you don’t drink enough fluid, blood pressure decreases, which can result in fainting. Sports drinks that contain electrolytes and glucose can help you feel more energetic when you feel like you’re about to faint. To keep track of how much water you’ve consumed, you should buy a refillable water bottle.
3. Avoid alcohol
Alcoholic drinks cause blood vessels to open up, which results in low blood pressure. Sometimes, even social drinking can cause people to have a fainting episode. So if you have a habit of drinking with your friends every weekend, maybe it’s time to change your plans a little. People who suffer from fainting and anxiety are usually alcohol intolerant, and they find it challenging to handle alcohol. For these people, one glass is equivalent to two.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t drink beer when your friends come over to your party – just don’t drink so much that you end up fainting. Remember that people who are susceptible to fainting don’t faint because of drunkenness, but excessive alcohol results in lower blood pressure.
4. Cut back on caffeine
Caffeine can cause an increase in the production of urine and make fainting more likely to happen. Caffeine can also increase your heart rate, worsen your anxiety symptoms, and make you feel more dehydrated. It’s present in coffee, tea, cola, Red Bull, chocolate, etc.
If you feel you are addicted to caffeine and can’t start your day without it, you have to remove it from your diet slowly. Getting rid of caffeine can take over 2 weeks. You might feel more tired, and you’ll have headaches because of caffeine withdrawal, but it will prove to be highly beneficial in the long run.
5. Avoid extreme temperatures
Heat can decrease blood flow to the brain, which can cause fainting. If you spend a lot of time in the heat, either because of work or because you just like being in the sun, then make sure you have a bottle of cold water with you.
Don’t shower in hot water for too long because that can essentially have the same effect as being in hot weather. It can lead to low blood pressure, and you might feel lightheaded before you faint. If you or someone you know is about to faint because of heat, then find a cool place where you can lie down, and if you have enough energy and are fully conscious, drink some water.
6. Breathe properly
When you feel like you’re about to have a fainting episode, you will most likely try to take shallow and rapid breaths. What you should do is breathe slowly and through your diaphragm and not through your chest. If you breathe through your chest, you’ll become more susceptible to fainting and anxiety, and you’ll feel even more lightheaded.
When you breathe in, make sure you hold your breath for 4-5 seconds. Relax your muscles and then slowly breathe out. Do this a couple of times, and you’ll notice the effects almost immediately.
7. Lie down
If you stand for too long, you’ll start to feel weak and lightheaded. When that happens, you should quickly find a place where you can lie down so that blood can get to your brain. The sooner you recognize the symptoms of fainting and anxiety, the faster you’ll be able to stop yourself from collapsing. As mentioned above, a lack of blood flow to the brain will cause you to faint, and it’s common for that to happen when you stand for an extended period.
Once you start to feel better, don’t immediately stand up. Sit up for a few minutes, and if you feel the lightheadedness is gone, only then should you stand up. If someone you know faints in your presence, lay them down so blood can return to their brain, and they will become conscious in a few minutes.
8. Distract yourself
It’s pretty standard for people to faint when giving blood or getting a shot. If that sounds like you, make sure you drink lots of water and eat something before giving blood or getting a shot. Ask the doctor or the nurse to let you lie down and try not to look at the needle.
Distract yourself by talking to the doctor or the nurse. If you find it difficult to speak, try looking at your phone – maybe you can finally read that article you’ve meant to read for a long time. It’s reasonably common to faint at the sight of a needle when getting a shot as it can result in low blood pressure and restrict your body’s ability to tighten blood vessels resulting in decreased blood flow to the brain. If you’re afraid of needles, then you should talk to your doctor about it before getting a shot. The best solution is just to distract yourself.
9. Take medicines
Medicines are usually not prescribed if fainting and anxiety co-occur. However, certain medications can help prevent fainting. Fludrocortisone acetate is generally used to treat low blood pressure, and serotonin inhibitors are also used to treat syncope.
It’s best to talk about these medicines with your doctor before you take them. Make sure you don’t take any recreational drugs because they can interfere with medications given to you by your doctor, and these drugs can also make fainting and anxiety worse.
10. The Applied Tension Technique
Lars-Göran Öst created this technique. It’s a great way to stop yourself from experiencing fainting and anxiety. How this technique works is, you tense your muscles, which causes your blood pressure to increase.
Here’s how you can do it: Find a place where you can sit comfortably and tense the muscles in your arms, legs, and trunk for at least 10 seconds. When you begin to notice a warm sensation in your head, relax your muscles for at least 20 seconds. Repeat this technique 5 times. Make sure you don’t let your body become too relaxed when you’re releasing the tension from your muscles, as that can result in low blood pressure.
Practice this technique a few times a day for a week, and you’ll start to see the results.
In most patients, symptoms of fainting can be easily recognized before a person faints. If your fainting episodes are severe, unpredictable, and frequent, then most generic advice will probably not work for you.
A study presented at ESC Congress 2020 showed that using a pacemaker can quickly treat unpredictable fainting. The study was carried out among 128 patients over the age of 40 who had fainted at least twice without any warning signs in the past year. All the patients were given a pacemaker. One group of patients, called the pacing group, had the pacemaker switched on, and the other group, called the control group, had it switched off.
After 11.2 months, 53% of the control group patients fainted compared to 16% of the pacing group patients. The study concluded that a pacemaker is an effective treatment for preventing fainting. If 11 patients are given a pacemaker, five patients can prevent fainting episodes.
12. Psychological intervention
If none of the methods mentioned above work for you, your best bet is to see a psychotherapist. If you’re a normal, healthy adult, then your fainting episodes are triggered by certain things, and a therapist can help you figure out what those things are and how you can deal with them.
A therapist will help you restructure your thoughts and beliefs that aren’t helping and help you overcome situations and things that cause you to faint. A therapist will also use desensitization and applied tension techniques to treat your fainting. You’ll understand your condition better, which will help you become less anxious about fainting.
Anxiety can make fainting worse, but most people can recognize the warning signs of fainting, which helps prevent it from happening. From eating properly to seeing a therapist, there are lots of things you can do to improve your mental health and stop yourself from fainting. If you’re young and healthy, then fainting isn’t something to worry about, but you should still talk to a therapist about it to understand your condition better!
Moving forward with Psychotherapy
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Take care and stay well.
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