How Is Panic Disorder Diagnosed
Many people who have panic attacks dont seek medical care because of embarrassment. They may also fear seeking medical attention or fear taking medicine. If you have panic attacks, it is very important to seek medical care and discuss your problem with your doctor. After you have been evaluated, your doctor will be able to tell you if your panic attacks are related to panic disorder or are caused by another problem. Simple treatments are available to help control panic attacks and panic disorder.
Social Anxiety Is My Old Friend
3. Relax Your Muscles: Another helpful tactic is progressive muscle relaxation, which essentially involves doing a full-body examination and tightening then releasing each muscle group in your body. You can start at your toes and work your way up, taking turns tensing one muscle group for a few seconds, then relaxing it for about 30 seconds. Move on to the next muscle group until youve worked your way up to the top of your head.
4. Remember, You Arent Dying Youre Having a Panic Attack: Remind yourself that what youre experiencing is a panic attack, and the feelings it brings are normal panic symptoms. Describe your symptoms to yourself, allowing yourself to feel them so you can let them go. Instead of judging your symptoms, just acknowledge them. Remind yourself that this is simply a sympathetic nervous system response that will soon pass. The first thing people tend to do is try to fight their symptoms and judge themselves for having them. Be with your symptoms and try to quiet your thoughts. That’s the best way to start gaining control of the panic attack without trying to get rid of it right away. Just be with your experience in the moment.
6. Drink Chamomile Tea: Recent clinical and laboratory research has determined that chamomile is not only relaxing but it can also significantly decrease anxiety and even fight depression. When feeling especially anxious, place four chamomile tea bags in hot water. After letting them soak for five minutes, drink up slowly.
Why Is Panic Produced
A panic attack happens when something triggers fear, or the system of fight or flight. The bodys nervous system releases the hormone adrenaline, and this wave of adrenaline can cause disturbing feelings and sensations.
When the nervous system reacts normally to a frightening situation, adrenaline levels quickly adapt, and will drop back down to normal levels once the situation passes. In a panic attack, this does not happen, and it may take a while for the body to recuperate completely from the symptoms it experiences during a panic attack.
Usually, there is no clear reason why these symptoms arise. The brain may try to explain or justify the feeling with irrational thoughts such as: I should be dying or I am losing my mind. A panic attack can also be provoked by a stressful situation, such as flying on an airplane or speaking in public.
The part of the brain called the amygdala is directly involved in panic attacks and anxiety disorders. This cerebral structure has a high-tension reaction when exposed to an unknown situation or after being confronted with an extremely stressful event.
The actual cause of panic attacks has not yet been scientifically proven, but research indicates that a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors can make a person more prone to feeling panic.
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How To Prevent Panic Attacks
Unfortunately, many times you just have to wait for a panic episode it to run its course, so prevention is just as important as any in-the-moment coping strategy.
Your physical health affects stress tolerance, so maintain a healthy diet, good sleep habits, and adequate exercise. Avoid caffeine or alcohol if they make your symptoms worse. In addition, since panic attacks mimic symptoms of other health problems, get a checkup to rule out other causes of your physical symptoms.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation, and mindfulness work can also help. Cognitive interventions teach you how to control your thinking during panic attacks. Behavioral strategies often include gradually exposing you to your fears safely. Mindfulness activities and structured relaxation exercises can reduce both mental and physical symptoms.
In some situations, your therapist may recommend a medication evaluation. If your anxiety is severe, medication can reduce the generally anxious feelings so you can do the work of therapy more effectively. Eventually, though, therapy alone may be enough.
Continue To Educate Yourself On Panic Attacks
One of the best things that you can do is continue your education on panic attacks. By knowing how they work, what life is like with one, and the different ways that they can affect a personâs everyday life you will be able to better handle future attacks. In addition, it will allow you to create the coping strategies that work best for your struggles, rather than trying to use something that was made for another individual. By keeping up with your research you will be able to handle your panic attacks in a smarter, more efficient way which will leave both yourself and those around you feel better.
Working on handling your panic attacks is all about finding what works best for you. Each individual has different needs, wants, and expectations which means that not every method will work the same way for everyone else who happens to be experiencing similar struggles. Hopefully, this article will help you find the most suitable methods for your personal needs and make you feel more at ease with your panic attacks and how they affect your life.
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Could You Be Suffering From Panic Disorder
Take our 2-minute panic disorder test to see if you may benefit from further diagnosis and treatment.
During the day if she was out, the attack felt like my head suddenly weighed a thousand pounds and my chest would get really heavy. It literally felt like something was pulling me down. I would usually have to head home immediately. I would then experience foggy vision where itactually looked like there was fog in the air. I also experienced double vision and parts of my bodylike my neck or one arm or one entire side of my facewould go totally numb.
In addition to the emotional turmoil and the physical manifestations that Caroline and Kirstie describe panic attacks can cause palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate sweating trembling or shaking sensations of shortness of breath or smothering feelings of choking chest pain or discomfort nausea or abdominal distress feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed or faint chills or overheating numbness or tingling feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself fear of losing control or going crazy and fear of dying.
Isolated attacks are bad enough. But when the attacks recur in a short period of time or when the fear of another attack is so strong that you begin to avoid situations, places, and people that may trigger an attack, you may be diagnosed with panic disorder.
What Happens During A Panic Attack
Panic attacks are associated with physical symptoms that include:
- Shaking or trembling
- Tingling or numbness in your hands, arms, feet or legs
- Chills or hot flashes
- Sense of unreality or dreamlike sensations
A person may also have an extreme fear of losing control, going crazy, or dying during a panic attack. It is very rare for a person to have all of these symptoms at once. However, the presence of at least 4 symptoms strongly suggests that a person has panic disorder.
Many of the symptoms that occur during a panic attack are the same as the symptoms of diseases of the heart, lungs, intestines, or nervous system. The similarities between panic disorder and other diseases may add to the persons fear and anxiety during and after a panic attack. For example, you may believe that you are actually having a heart attack.
Just the fear of having a panic attack is often enough to trigger the symptoms. This is the basis for a condition called agoraphobia. A person who has agoraphobia finds it difficult to leave home because he or she is afraid of having a panic attack in public or not having an easy way to escape if the symptoms start.
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Keep Lavender Close By
Research shows that lavender has a calming effect and helps to reduce stress. It also has the added benefit of not leading to dependence or causing withdrawal symptoms.
Traditional remedies that contain diluted lavender oil may help reduce or manage symptoms of anxiety.
However, lavender essential oil is not regulated so be sure to get your oil from a reputable source, such as a pharmacy. Be sure to always follow the instructions for use and avoid applying concentrated oil directly to the skin.
What Causes Panic Attacks
Panic attacks can happen for various reasons. Often, though, they occur for no apparent reason.
In most cases, a panic attack happens when youre exposed to a specific trigger. These vary widely. Some people find that social events, public speaking, conflict or situations that remind them of past or current stress can be a trigger.
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Calming Step : Have A Script Ready
A panic attack can fill your head with racing, negative thoughts, which can keep the panic going and make you feel worse. But you can wield a powerful weapon against them: A script of positive thoughts.
Write down encouraging words you can read to yourself during a panic attack, Dr. Josell says. Your script should answer the negative thoughts. So if you feel like youre going to pass out, tell yourself you wont. If you feel like youre dying, tell yourself you wont die from a panic attack. The words you hear are powerful, and over time, they become your truth.
Ideally, write your script when youre feeling calm. Tuck it in your pocket or purse or type it into your smartphone notes so its easy to access.
If youre in the middle of a panic attack and dont have your script, you can fight negative thoughts on the fly. Try repeating in your mind or out loud phrases like, Im strong, and I can handle this, or This is only temporary, and it will pass.
Your script helps you deal with an attack that arises, but its a preventive measure, too. It can calm your fear of having another panic attack because you know youre in control. The more confident you are that you can manage a panic attack, the less likely you are to have future attacks.
What Is A Panic Attack
A panic attack is an intense wave of fear characterized by its unexpectedness and debilitating, immobilizing intensity. Your heart pounds, you cant breathe, and you may feel like youre dying or going crazy. Panic attacks often strike out of the blue, without any warning, and sometimes with no clear trigger. They may even occur when youre relaxed or asleep.
A panic attack may be a one-time occurrence, although many people experience repeat episodes. Recurrent panic attacks are often triggered by a specific situation, such as crossing a bridge or speaking in publicespecially if that situation has caused a panic attack before. Usually, the panic-inducing situation is one in which you feel endangered and unable to escape, triggering the bodys fight-or-flight response.
You may experience one or more panic attacks, yet be otherwise perfectly happy and healthy. Or your panic attacks may occur as part of another disorder, such as panic disorder, social phobia, or depression. Regardless of the cause, panic attacks are treatable. There are strategies you can use to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of panic, regain your confidence, and take back control of your life.
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Anxiety Vs Panic Attacks
Anxiety and panic attacks are both very common. They are both often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed as medical conditions.
Anxiety is characterized by ongoing worry or fear about the future. With generalized anxiety disorder , for example, anxiety symptoms are present for normal everyday experiences and can create mild-to-severe interruptions in a person’s life. With anxiety, symptoms may be present on some level all the time or during specific periods of known stressors, such as during a public presentation.
Panic attacks tend to come on suddenly and can happen from either a calm state or a state of feeling anxious. They often occur without warning or a known trigger and bring a sense of doom, intense fear, and a feeling of dying.
Similarly, both anxiety and panic attacks have physical and psychological symptoms. With panic attacks, however, the symptoms tend to come on quickly and are often only present for up to 10 minutes. With anxiety, symptoms can be present for a much longer period of time.
What Is Progressive Muscle Relaxation
PMR was created by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the 1920s. It was based on the theory that physical relaxation can promote mental relaxation.
Jacobson found that you can relax a muscle by tensing and then releasing it. He also discovered that doing so can relax the mind.
PMR provides a framework for achieving this state of relaxation. It requires you to work on one muscle group at a time. This allows you to notice the tension in that specific area.
Its also essential to tense each muscle group before relaxing. This action emphasizes the sense of relaxation in the area.
Theres plenty of evidence behind the health benefits of PMR. Lets take a closer look at what research has discovered about the benefits of this technique.
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When Might I Have Panic Attacks
Panic attacks happen at different times for everyone. Some people have one panic attack then don’t ever experience another, or you might find that you have them regularly, or several in a short space of time. You might notice that particular places, situations or activities seem to trigger panic attacks. For example, they might happen before a stressful appointment.
Most panic attacks last between 5 to 20 minutes. They can come on very quickly. Your symptoms will usually be at their worst within 10 minutes. You might also experience symptoms of a panic attack over a longer period of time. This could be because you’re having a second panic attack, or you’re experiencing other symptoms of anxiety.
“My panic attacks seem to come out of the blue now. But in fact, they seem to be triggered mainly at night when I want to go to sleep but cannot stop my mind racing, experiencing worry and panic about anything that may be on my mind.”
Learn Your Triggers And Early Symptoms
For most people, a panic attack starts rather slowly, often with hyperventilation. Pay attention to your mind and body, and try to understand what youre like leading up to a panic attack. Its easier to learn how to control panic attacks if youre trying to control them as theyre building up rather than as youre smack in the middle of them.
When youve learned your triggers and your early symptoms, there are a couple of things you can do to control your panic attacks: breathing exercises and muscle relaxation. These two things will rarely stop a panic attack, but they may make it last a little less time, and they may make you more outwardly calm even when youre panicking inside. Over time, these responses may become natural when you feel yourself starting to have a panic attack, but at first, youll have to remind yourself to start them and force yourself to practice them in the fact of a panic attack. Heres how they work:
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Try Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Another symptom of panic attacks is muscle tension. Practicing muscle relaxation techniques may help limit an attack. This is because if the mind senses that the body is relaxing, other symptoms such as rapid breathing may also diminish.
A technique called progressive muscle relaxation is a popular method for coping with anxiety and panic attacks.
This involves tensing up and then relaxing various muscles in turn. To do this:
Can Home Remedies Help
While home remedies continue to be a trending topic in all aspects of health, its important not to trade in proven medications and therapies for natural versions.
At the same time, lifestyle measures will certainly help your overall mental health, including a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Its important to discuss the use of any herbs or supplements with your doctor. This includes fish oil.
While theres some that shows the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may support brain health and subsequent mental illnesses, more research needs to be done to conclude whether taking fish oil and how much can effectively treat mental health disorders.
Not all studies support the use of omega-3 fatty acids for psychosis and other mental health conditions.
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Identify A Point Person
Annette said that one of the things that has helped her through attacks is having what she calls a panic attack point person. This may be your therapist, a family member or spouse, or a good friend. Whoever it is, this person should be familiar with your anxiety history, and should be someone you feel you can rely on.
It’s important to have people in your life who don’t judge you and know what works for you when you are having an episode, says Annette, a 43-year-old woman in Oregon who has been diagnosed with panic disorder. I’m so lucky to have a couple people who are always there for me and treat me with respect and dignity when I need it most.