The Factors That Can Lead To Panic Disorder
The following three factors contribute to interoceptive conditioning, higher anxiety sensitivity and development of panic disorder.
- Biological vulnerability. A genetic predisposition to certain personality styles, such as negative affect, contributes to the development of anxiety.
- Psychological vulnerability. Early developmental experiences can make certain individuals more likely to experience anxiety, especially if they grew up in controlled environments without opportunities to explore threatening situations.
- A specific psychological experience. A negative experience with an illness may cause a person to fear certain symptoms associated with that condition. Also, an individual may fear an illness if a family member modeled the illness as something to fear.
Gruner says that panic disorder often starts with an unexpected panic attack that surprises the person. They might have a panic attack while driving, in a parking lot, on a planesomewhere where it could have severe consequences to have a panic attack and also where the attack seems unwarranted based on the situation.
The first panic attack can be very disconcerting, and then an individual can fear that it may happen again, says Gruner.
A Guide To Overcoming Panic Disorder
About 10 to 33 percent of people will experience at least one panic attack this year. Even if youve never had a panic attack, you probably know what they are like. A pounding heart, sweating, trembling, dizziness, chills.
Only 2.7 percent of people who experience a panic attack in a given year will meet the criteria for panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent and often unexpected panic attacks.
An individual with panic disorder also worries about experiencing future panic attacks. In other words, panic disorder is the fear of panic attacks, or the fear of fear. Such anticipatory fear can cause significant distress and negatively impact an individuals daily life.
Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks, as well as fear of experiencing another episode. Agoraphobia, the fear of being somewhere where escape or help would be difficult in the event of a panic attack, may also accompany a panic disorder. If you have agoraphobia, you are likely to avoid public places such as shopping malls, or confined spaces such as an airplane.
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What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder
With GAD, you may feel extreme and unrealistic worry and tension even if theres nothing to trigger these feelings. Most days, you may worry a lot about various topics, including health, work, school and relationships. You may feel that the worry continues from one thing to the next.
Physical symptoms of GAD can include restlessness, difficulty concentrating and sleeping problems.
To Relieve Anxiety Talk Out Loud To Yourself
Give yourself permission to have an anxiety attack by saying the words out loud. Remind yourself that the attack will end, and it wont kill you or cause you to faint.
Carbonell says that understanding the physiology of fainting and reminding yourself of it is important. People faint when their blood pressure drops. A anxiety attack can make you feel like youre going to faint, but you wont because your blood pressure doesn’t drop during an attack. Remind yourself out loud of truths like these to counter your fears.
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Find Some Private Space To Normalize With This Posture
While you shouldnt, say, bolt from the company meeting if youre having a panic attack, you may want take a break in a quiet place where you can sit.
When you feel one coming on, if possible, try and go to your nearest bathroom or a private conference room, then, lower your head until it’s almost between your knees and focus on taking slow, deep breaths, says Wright. You may be able to self-regulate and de-escalate the panic attack by doing this. If you can’t go somewhere private and this happens in a meeting, pretend you have to lean down to tie your shoe or accidentally drop your phone on the ground and stay down until you feel yourself normalizing.
How To Cope With Panic And Anxiety
Anxiety is very common. Some types of anxiety are healthy, but if it starts to overwhelm your everyday life, you could be living with an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety includes feelings of worry, nervousness and panic. Its different from fear, which is an immediate reaction to a perceived threat. Its common for everyone to experience anxiety sometimes. Some types of anxiety are healthy and can help you get things done. When anxiety starts to overwhelm your daily life, it could mean youre living with an anxiety disorder. Talking about it is the best way to help you understand and manage your anxiety.
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Why Might I Have A Panic Attack
A panic attack can happen at any time or place, and because it can happen quite quickly, it might feel unexpected.
Because a panic attack is an intense feeling of fear and anxiety, it often happens if you are feeling very anxious about something happening in your life, or you have experienced something difficult or stressful. This might be:
- a difficult situation at home that is making you anxious
- a frightening experience like abuse, or neglect
- feeling stressed about things like exams, work, friendships or relationships
- if you have lost a friend or family member
- if you are being bullied
- anxiety around school, college or university
There are many reasons why you might feel anxious and have a panic attack. Everyone has different experiences and thats okay. Sometimes, it might feel like there is no clear reason why you are having a panic attack.
Whats important is to try and understand what you might be feeling anxious or stressed about, and what types of situations or places can cause you to have panic attacks.
The first step to doing this is to talk to someone you trust, like a friend, family member, teacher or GP. They can help you understand what you are experiencing and help you find the support you need.
I get a pounding heart and my breathing becomes rapid like I cant get any air in – it feels stuck in the back of my throat.
How To Talk To Yourself
Talk to yourself about what is happening, and what you need to do. One question my patients find very helpful is this: is it Danger or Discomfort? Some of the other responses my patients like include the following:
1. Fine, let’s have an attack! It’s a good chance to practice my coping techniques.
2. Answer your “what if…?” fears by saying “So what? I’ll get afraid, then calm down again.”
3. It’s okay to be afraid.
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Treatment For Anxiety & Panic Attacks
Managing life with anxiety and panic attacks can feel insurmountable at times. Fortunately, managing anxiety is possible through a combination of professional help and self-care. Treatment options for anxiety include:
- Medication: Anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines, antidepressants and buspirone can help reduce symptoms of anxiety.
- Psychotherapy: Therapeutic techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy and occupational therapy can help individuals better identify anxious thoughts and change behavior patterns to cope with anxiety more effectively.
- Systematic desensitization:Desensitization involves gradually exposing a person to an anxiety trigger point, so they eventually become comfortable with it. A licensed mental health professional trained on how to safely desensitize anxiety should be sought for this approach.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese treatment that works by sticking thin needles into specific pressure points on the body, thought to restore inner balance.
- Meditation: Successful meditation can allow individuals to better understand the source of their anxiety and how to manage it.
- Breathing exercises: Deep breathing exercises help individuals avoid hyperventilation and feel more calm, reducing anxiety attacks.
- Yoga:Practicing yoga can promote mindfulness by centering the mind and body through movement and stationary poses.
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How Do I Know If My Child Has An Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety-related problems in children share four common features. The anxiety:
- Is typically a fear or fixation that interferes with the ability to enjoy life, get through the day or complete tasks.
- Is puzzling to both the child and parents.
- Does not improve after logical explanations to address the worries.
- Is treatable.
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What Triggers Anxiety
Specific situations or actions that lead to feelings of worry or fear are known as anxiety triggers. In severe cases, these triggers worsen symptoms to the point that an individual suffers a panic attack.Panic attacks are sudden episodes of severe and debilitating fear. Anxiety attack triggers include both internal factors, such as underlying medical conditions, and external factors, such as stressful life events.
A list of anxiety triggers includes but is not limited to:
Is It Panic Disorder
If you feel constantly stressed and anxious, particularly about when your next panic attack may be, you may have panic disorder.
People with panic disorder may avoid situations that might cause a panic attack. They may also fear and avoid public spaces .
“There’s no quick fix, but if your attacks are happening time after time, seek medical help,” says Professor Salkovskis.
Read more about panic attacks, including personal stories, at See Me Scotland.
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How To Help Someone With Anxiety
All of us worry and get scared from time to time. But those with anxiety may feel consumed by fears of things that might seem irrational to others. It can be hard to relate to these concerns, and as a result, many people dont know how to best help someone with anxiety. People are often dismissive of people experiencing anxiety, says Joseph McGuire, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine. With other medical illnesses, you may be able to see physical symptoms. But with anxiety, you dont necessarily see what the person is dealing with. So its important to be sensitive to what the person with anxiety is going through, even if it doesnt make sense to you. Its distressing to watch a loved one experience panic attacks and face anxiety every day, but there are things you can do to help. It starts with recognizing the signs of excessive worry and understanding the best ways to support your loved one.
The Connection Between Food And Mental Health
Since we dont have all the answers, biologically, behind anxiety and depression, theres no clear reason why changing your diet can change your mood, Knüppel says.
But we do know a few things: Vitamins in the body help the function of enzymes that enable reactions such as the synthesis of serotonin, which plays an essential role in our happiness, she explains.
Meanwhile, too much sugar has been to decrease a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor , which is involved in the development of depression and anxiety.
Theres also emerging research that suggests that our gut plays an important role in mental health.
The microorganisms in our gut can communicate with the brain and several systems that could play a role in depression and anxiety, and the composition of the gut microbiota is influenced by nutrition, Knüppel adds.
Michael Thase, MD, psychiatrist and director of the Mood and Anxiety Program at the University of Pennsylvania, says there are a few other factors at play here.
When you treat depression with medication, the actual magical chemical ingredients matter maybe 15 percent. Its really the process of working with a doctor and finding the motivation to recognize the problem and take steps toward fixing it that counts for most of the good, Thase says.
You can get that much of the good in a non-medication intervention that includes diet, exercise, and talking to someone, he believes.
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Tips To Manage Anxiety And Stress
Try these when you’re feeling anxious or stressed:
Fitness Tips: Stay Healthy, Manage Stress
For the biggest benefits of exercise, try to include at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity , or a combination of the two.
- 5 X 30: Jog, walk, bike, or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
- Set small daily goals and aim for daily consistency rather than perfect workouts. It’s better to walk every day for 15-20 minutes than to wait until the weekend for a three-hour fitness marathon. Lots of scientific data suggests that frequency is most important.
- Find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable. Extroverted people often like classes and group activities. People who are more introverted often prefer solo pursuits.
- Distract yourself with an iPod or other portable media player to download audiobooks, podcasts, or music. Many people find its more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.
- Recruit an exercise buddy. It’s often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend, partner, or colleague.
- Be patient when you start a new exercise program. Most sedentary people require about four to eight weeks to feel coordinated and sufficiently in shape so that exercise feels easier.
If you are the parent of a college-aged child with an anxiety disorder, here are some tips to help with managing his or her anxiety.
The Link Between Anxiety Symptoms And Depression
Many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression makes anxiety worse , its important to seek treatment for both conditions.
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What Is An Anxiety Disorder
An anxiety disorder is a type of mental health condition. If you have an anxiety disorder, you may respond to certain things and situations with fear and dread. You may also experience physical signs of anxiety, such as a pounding heart and sweating.
Its normal to have some anxiety. You may feel anxious or nervous if you have to tackle a problem at work, go to an interview, take a test or make an important decision. And anxiety can even be beneficial. For example, anxiety helps us notice dangerous situations and focuses our attention, so we stay safe.
But an anxiety disorder goes beyond the regular nervousness and slight fear you may feel from time to time. An anxiety disorder happens when:
- Anxiety interferes with your ability to function.
- You often overreact when something triggers your emotions.
- You cant control your responses to situations.
Anxiety disorders can make it difficult to get through the day. Fortunately, there are several effective treatments for anxiety disorders.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is 70 To 90 Percent Effective As A Treatment For Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is one of the most treatable anxiety disorders. The prevailing treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy . A new offshoot of CBT, known as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy , has also been found effective in treating panic disorder. Psychologist Steven Hayes developed ACT in part as a way to treat his own panic disorder. This form of therapy uses acceptance and mindfulness techniques to change how you relate to your physical sensations of anxiety and anxiety itself.
CBT is an incredibly effective treatment for panic disorder. Seventy to ninety percent of people who undergo CBT will get better, says Gruner.
A key part of CBT in treating panic is a method called interoceptive exposure, in which the person deliberately confronts the unpleasant physical sensations that are causing anxiety. People become more sensitive to these sensations because they fear and avoid them, so facing the sensations and learning that they are not dangerous can lower anxiety sensitivity.
CBT sessions are usually conducted on a weekly basis and last for around 12 to 16 sessions. The treatment tends to show long-lasting results, and relapse is uncommon.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are also often used to treat depression and anxiety disorders, with or without CBT. These drugs can be effective, but CBT has been found to be a longer-lasting treatment than SSRIs.
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Finding Trust And Support
The key to overcoming avoidance behaviors is to continue to slowly face what you are avoiding until it no longer has such a grip on you. Of course, doing so is far easier said than done. That is why it is recommended that you dont face previously avoided situations alone, but rather engage in them with a trusted friend or family member by your side.
Let your friend know that the situation you are stepping into is usually a source of anxiety. Have a backup plan ready should things go sideways. If you’re attending a large social event that you would normally avoid, talk beforehand about what youll need if you feel uncomfortable.
Prepare your loved one to give you space if you should want a few minutes alone to manage your anxiety. Perhaps you will forewarn her that you will need to leave if symptoms become unmanageable. Regardless of your plan, make sure your loved one is aware of it so that she will know what to expect should your anxiety arise.
It is important to note that you never should rely on one person to buffer your feelings of anxiety at all times. By doing so, you may accidentally create a shift in avoidance where you become overly dependent on this person.
Eventually, you will want to step into the previous avoidances alone. Your loved one may still be supporting you from a distance, but it is only when you move forward alone that you can truly overcome your avoidance behaviors.
Etiology / Causes And Risk Factors Of Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is thought to have a psychobiological conceptualization . This does not mean that panic attacks are due to a biological disease. What this does mean is that there are certain biological factors that may be inherited or passed on through genes, and thus may lead some people to be more likely than others to experience panic disorder symptoms. This is likely why panic disorder seems to run in families. In other words, if one family member has panic disorder, the other family members are more likely to experience panic symptoms or panic disorder compared to people without a family history of panic disorder. It is very important to note that just inheriting these vulnerabilities to panic does not make the onset of panic attacks inevitable or unalterable. In fact, it is possible to think and act in ways that prevent panic attacks.
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