Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia was traditionally thought to involve a fear of public places and open spaces. However, it is now believed that agoraphobia develops as a complication of panic attacks and panic disorder. Although it can develop at any point, agoraphobia usually appears within a year of your first recurrent panic attacks.
If youre agoraphobic, youre afraid of having a panic attack in a situation where escape would be difficult or embarrassing. You may also be afraid of having a panic attack where you wouldnt be able to get help. Because of these fears, you start avoiding more and more situations.
For example, you may begin to avoid:
- Crowded places such as shopping malls or sports arenas.
- Cars, airplanes, subways, and other forms of travel.
- Social gatherings, restaurants, or other situations where it would be embarrassing to have a panic attack.
- Physical exercise in case it triggers panic.
- Certain food or drinks that could provoke panic, such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar, or specific medications.
- Going anywhere without the company of someone who makes you feel safe. In more severe cases, you might only feel safe at home.
Concentrate On Your Breathing
Focus on breathing in slowly, then breathing out slowly. It can be helpful to count when youre breathing to focus your mind. You can start small at first, like counting to three as you breathe in and counting to three as you breathe out. When you begin to calm down, you can increase how long you hold each breath to five seconds or seven seconds.
Get Involved In The Present
People donât panic in the present. People panic when they imagine something bad happening to them in the future or in the past. This is why your panic attacks are almost always accompanied by some âwhat ifâ¦?â thought. The reason you say âwhat ifâ¦?â is because what you fear is not actually happening!
Get back into the activity you were engaged in prior to the attack, and become involved with the people and objects around you. If youâre in a store, resume shopping, reading labels, comparing prices, asking questions, etc. It will move you closer to your goal of overcoming panic attacks when you bring your focus and energy back to the present environment. By this I mean, work with what is around you.
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What To Do After A Panic Attack
The immediate onset of a panic attack can be distressing and it is important to help the person regain an immediate sense of control.
This can be done by practising deep breathing exercises. Generally, the presence of a trusted friend or colleague can help the person recover better during the attack but this should be kept to a minimum of only one or two individuals.
Panic attacks can sometimes be triggered by the presence of too many people and individuals assisting the afflicted should be mindful of this.
After the panic attack has passed, allow the person room to regain their composure on their own and offer support when requested to help the person feel better.
How To Stop A Panic Attacks Today
Now before I go any further Im aware of each of us our differences and the way our anxiety appears will never be the same in both you and me.
When I was at the worst point in my life while struggling with Mental Health and Addiction there were some months where I would have 5 or 6 panic attacks and others maybe only 2 or 3.
When I was at school, playing sports, or attempting to go out with my friends one of the only thoughts in my head was What if I get a panic attack? Everyone will laugh at me?
Living in fear of my next Panic Attack only made the situation worse as each day I was already terrified of a Panic Attack creeping up on me that in turn, I would actually bring them on faster from panicking myself right into a vicious circle of Panic Attacks.
This is why its so important to reflect on the underlying reason why youre having Panic Attacks. As remember The Problem is not the Panic Attacks, Its just the symptom
I knew with myself what was causing the Panic Attacks to happen witch was a traumatic event that happened to me when I was a younger witch I had held onto and blamed myself for. At the end of the day, I knew it wasnt until I acknowledged the root problem and started to talk about it with a therapist that I would then begin to feel better as time went on.
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Why Am I Crying And Hyperventilating While Pregnant
Crying during pregnancy is normal when its within reason. Pregnancy and postpartum emotions are turbulent, causing both joyful and sadness tears.
If your crying begins to interfere with your day-to-day life, then there might be a larger issue than the hormones.
This might look like:
- A strong urge to stay in bed or sleep all day
- Loss of appetite
Hyperventilating during pregnancy happens when we cry too much or too hard. We are already out of breath from a baby on our lungs, but strong emotions can take the remaining breath we have.
When you are hyperventilating, its important to regulate yourself and your breathing patterns. After all your oxygen is delivered to your baby, too, and you both need it!
Ways To Prevent Panic Attacks
“You need to try to work out what particular stress you might be under that could make your symptoms worse,” says Professor Salkovskis. “It’s important not to restrict your movements and daily activities.”
- Doing breathing exercises every day will help to prevent panic attacks and relieve them when they are happening
- Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, will help you to manage stress levels, release tension, improve your mood and boost confidence
- Eat regular meals to stabilise your blood sugar levels
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoking these can make panic attacks worse. Panic support groups have useful advice about how you can effectively manage your attacks. Knowing that other people are experiencing the same feelings can be reassuring. Your GP can put you in touch with groups in your area
- Cognitive behavioural therapy can identify and change the negative thought patterns that are feeding your panic attacks
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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.
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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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:
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.
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Panic Attack Vs Anxiety Attack
What is the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack? A panic attack and an anxiety attack can seem very similar as they both involve high levels of anxiety and the accompanying physical symptoms. A panic attack however is usually shorter and more intense than an anxiety attack and during a panic attack the normal, albeit unpleasant, symptoms of anxiety are misinterpreted as a sign of something catastrophic happening.
Some people may experience panic attacks that seem to last for longer than 20 minutes which is likely due to continuing high levels of anxiety acting as a trigger for a number of panic attacks in a short space of time.
Develop Anxiety Coping Skills
Your avoidance behaviors revolve around not wanting to experience anxiety or other symptoms of panic disorder. The most effective way to get past this fear is to learn techniques that will help you control your symptoms. Coping skills can help you keep your anxiety in check and may even assist in managing your panic attacks.
Such skills can be learned through the help of a therapist or on your own by using self-help books. Some common strategies to aid in coping with anxiety include:
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Stay In The Present & Ground Yourself
Practicing grounding techniques help reduce anxiety and calm you down from a panic attack.
When you feel an attack coming on, try this 54321 game:
- Name 5 things you can see in the room with you.
- Name 4 things you can feel
- Name 3 things you can hear right now
- Name 2 things you can smell right now
- Name 1 good thing about yourself
Tip : Chant A Mantra Or Practice Meditation
Similar to the deep breathing exercise in #Tip 1, chanting a mantra or practising meditation are simple tricks to help relax your mind and refocus your attention.
The practice of sacred utterances such as Om or focusing on ones breath during a meditation exercise are great exercises that can help relieve panic attacks
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Four Ways To Treat Panic Attacks Without Medication
1. Keep yourself occupied
During an attack, your mind will focus on a situation or object that causing the sensation of fear. And because you are focusing on this sensation, the symptoms become more severe and extensive. The best you can do at this point is to distract your mind. You can do something creative like writing or drawing. In addition, you can go biking or play your favorite sport with a friend.
2. Follow an exercise
Whats the connection between panic attacks and exercise? For one, physical activity helps in the production of hormones that counteract the symptoms of anxiety or depression. Activities like jogging or lifting weights release hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphin which are known to improve mood.
3. Regulate your caffeine and sugar intake
Caffeine and sugar can amplify the effects of a panic attack. Consuming too much of these can put your body on overdrive and worsen palpitations. It also causes hypersensitivity which can increase the frequency of attacks. As much as possible, be mindful of the amount of coffee or sweets you are eating each day.
4. Talk to someone
If you are going through a difficult anxiety episode, its always best to talk to someone who represents security and peace of mind. It can be a loved one or a friend. Whichever the case, opening up about how the attack is affecting you can help lessen the symptoms.
Reach out to us at MidCities Psychiatry and view our range of treatment options that take your needs into account.
What Causes Panic Attacks
For lots of people, panic attacks can appear to start for no reason or without any warning signs. This can be really difficult for people when theyre having them regularly.
The reasons youre having panic attacks arent always clear. But there are things that can make people more likely to have them:
- Difficult experiences or memories
- Some health conditions
Some people feel like they have to avoid certain places because of their panic attacks, but doing this can actually make them worse. If youre struggling to cope or you want help with your panic attacks, your doctor can help.
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Facing Feared Situations And Places
You need to overcome situations, places, and activities that you have been avoiding due to the fear of having panic attacks.
Make a list of situations, places, activities, and objects that you fear in order from the least feared to the most feared. Begin with exposing yourself to the thing that you fear the least and repeatedly engage in that activity until you feel less anxious.
Exposure can be brief at first and then extended. Perhaps you could go to the place with a friend or family member to begin with and then tackle going there on your own.
It is important to plan your exposure exercises to feel in control of the situation. Work out what you are going to do and when you plan to do it.
Facing the things you fear most can sometimes be frightening. Take your time and go at your own pace, and you will eventually overcome anxiety.
Key Points How To Cope With A Panic Attack
The four steps to alleviating a panic attack:
You might also want to make lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of having a panic attack in the first place:
- Moderate your caffeine intake. For people vulnerable to anxiety, too much caffeine can cause problems. Excessive amounts of caffeine can also induce panic-like symptoms.
- Do frequent exercise. There is evidence that anxious people who undertake more frequent exercise are less sensitive to the physical symptoms of panic. Its thought that exercise can increase familiarity with the kind of sensations, such as increased heart rate, that contribute to panic.
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Keep Lavender On Hand
Lavender is known for being soothing and stress-relieving. It can help your body relax. If you know youre prone to panic attacks, keep some lavender essential oil on hand and put some on your forearms when you experience a panic attack. Breathe in the scent.
Lavender should not be combined with benzodiazepines. This combination can cause intense drowsiness.