Dont Fight The Anxiety Go Easy On Yourself
When you’re feeling really anxious you don’t want to avoid how you’re feeling. This can just make you more anxious and cause you to feel on edge around other people.
There’s a reason you’re feeling anxious, whether that’s something in your environment or a chemical imbalance in your brain.
It’s OK to feel anxious! And to go easy on those days where you have high anxiety.
Once you learn to stop fighting how you’re feeling you will start to understand your anxiety more. You’ll learn what your triggers are. Understanding where your anxiety stems from will stop a panic attack in its tracks. Fighting your anxiety will only cause more panic attacks to occur.
Listen to what your anxiety is trying to tell you. If you don’t think anything is wrong in your life and you’re still feeling anxious, talk to your doctor about it.
Sometimes our bodies don’t produce enough serotonin to keep us naturally calm, and this could be what’s triggering your panic attacks .
How To Help Someone Having A Panic Attack
A panic attack is a brief but intense rush of fear.
These attacks involve symptoms similar to those experienced when facing a threat, including:
- intense fear
- head and chest pain
Panic attacks differ from a typical fear response because theres no actual threat involved.
Panic attack triggers arent always easy to identify, so people who have one attack often worry about having more, especially in public.
Panic attacks usually feel very uncomfortable and cause significant distress. Many people believe theyre experiencing a heart attack or other life-threatening issue.
If you know someone who experiences panic attacks, there are several things you can do to help them in the moment.
Ways To Help A Friend Post Panic Attack
After theyve calmed down, and can talk normally, offer them water and ask,Would you like to talk about it? Or would you like to talk about or do something else?
1. If they choose to talk about their panic attack
Let them talk without interrupting. Dont offer advice unless they ask.
2. If they choose to talk about something else
Talk about something humorous or lighthearted.
3. If they choose to do something else
Give them options. Would you like to eat some food? Watch a movie? Take a walk?
All of the options I suggested above to help a friend through a panic attack are trial and error. A lot of times the panicker knows exactly how theyd like to be helped. So after they are calm and have been focused on something else for awhile, ask how they wouldve preferred to have been helped.
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How do you recognise the onset of an attack?
The first time, a panic attack can be extremely difficult to recognise as it feels palpably physical, Sharma says. Often, people go to the emergency room believing they are having a heart attack. If physical causes such as cardiac, neurological or respiratory issues are ruled out by a medical professional, it is most likely that the experience is a psychosomatic one. This is how most people realise that what they experienced is a panic attack, he says.
But the attacks can be predictable. Usually the triggers are same or similar, for the same person. For example, for someone who has been harassed on public transport, theres more likelihood of it occurring in the same setting, says Vidha.
Symptoms of a panic attack
A panic attack is a group of symptoms occurring together. The symptoms usually reach their peak intensity and subside within ten minutes, says Vidha. Officially, at least four of the following symptoms need to occur for it to qualify as a panic attack, she says.
Develop Your Coping Techniques
In order for coping strategies to work, you need to practice them when you are in a relaxed state. Set aside time each day to practice different relaxation techniques. Some common coping skills include , progressive muscle relaxation, and breathing exercises.??
Through regular practice, you will notice which strategies help you relax the most, and you will be prepared to use them when you are anxious on the job.
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It might be helpful to pretend youre blowing out through a straw. Let out a tiny bit of air in a slow and steady stream so that it lasts a really long time.
Repeat this for as long as it takes. If you find your mind gearing up again, re-engage your busywork strategy . If you find yourself feeling ungrounded again, go back to those body sensations. Re-anchor. Start again. Do this until your breath feels more regular, and you can look around the room and notice all the things in it.
Congratulations, you have survived.
The 3 Bs are easy to remember and relatively simple. If you practice them outside of crisis moments, youll be even more likely to remember and use them . And if you train a parent, friend, or partner to slow down and guide you through the process when they see you struggling, youll find even more pervasive relief.
Of course, if you find yourself worried about having another attack in between attacks, and especially if you start avoiding people, places, or things youd otherwise be meeting with, going to, or doing, its probably time to find a professional to help navigate.
In the meantime, try to stay aware of your body so you can catch the earliest hint of anxiety. When your throat starts closing up or your mind suddenly fills with more Is and shoulds and nevers than usual, grab your 3 Bs and go to work.
What Is A Panic Attack
At the physiological level, panic attacks are hyperventilation. Youre taking in way too much oxygen and not expelling enough carbon dioxide, but your brain screams that you need to breathe more, more, more! More air! Or you will die! You are dying!
This is why you sometimes see people breathing into paper bags, limiting the introduction of additional oxygen into an already oxygen-overloaded system.
Because this physiological mix-up is at the root of the problem, we have to address it physiologically. We have to get our breathing to slow down. That helps our brains slow down.
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Understand The Symptoms Of A Panic Attack
Learning the symptoms of a panic attack can help you better understand what you’re going through and what steps to take to respond to your distress.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , there are 13 types of panic attack symptoms, ranging from physical to emotional. Common physical symptoms include rapid heart rate, trembling, and shortness of breath, while emotional symptoms include loss of control and fear of dying.
The ADAA says that if you’re experiencing four or more of these 13 symptoms, it’s considered a panic attack, though limited-symptom panic attacks can also occur.
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.
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Support Them To Seek Help
If you think your friend or family member’s anxiety is becoming a problem for them, you could encourage them to seek treatment by talking to a GP or therapist. You could:
- Offer to help them arrange a doctor’s appointment. If they are scared of leaving the house, you could suggest they ring their GP to find out if they will do home visits and telephone appointments.
- Offer support when they attend appointments. You could offer to go with them to their appointments and wait in the waiting room. You can also help them plan what they’d like to talk about with the doctor. See our page on talking to your GP for more information.
- Help them seek help from a therapist. See our page on how to find a therapist for more information.
- Help them research different options for support, such as community services or peer support groups such as those run by Anxiety UK and No Panic. See our useful contacts page for more information. You could also call Mind’s Infoline to find out more about local services.
See our page on helping someone else seek help for more information.
Take Advantage Of Online Check
Guys, I LOVE online check in. Its so, freakin, ridiculously easy. And for the technophobics out there, who are already breathing slightly faster at the thought of being responsible for tagging your own bag, relax it honestly is so easy, and youll be helped by a member of staff.
Depending on your airline youll be able to check in, at the very least, a few days before you leave home. I quite frequently travel with British low-cost airline EasyJet who allow you to check in 30 days in advance of your flight this means that I can check in for both my flight out, plus my return flight, saving me time and a hell of a lot of queuing in the airport. I can print out both sets of boarding passes and have them in my hand before I get anywhere near a plane.
When you get to the airport, all youll need to do is go to a self-service bag drop, and use a touchscreen to answer a few questions and scan your boarding pass. Your luggage label will print off, and youll pop it on your case handle. And thats it! Its so simple, and itll save you so much time and stress. If youre still not sure, check out this gloriously cheesy video of Southampton Airports bag drop process most airlines are going to have a very similar setup. Have a look on YouTube for the airline or airport youre travelling with!
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How To Get Through A Panic Attack
Recognise the symptoms of panic attacks
To manage a panic attack effectively the first and most important step is being able to recognise the symptoms. Knowledge is power. To learn more about the symptoms of panic attacks take a read through our blog What are the Symptoms of Panic Attacks?
Keep in mind that panic unfolds differently for everyone. Get to know the unique way that panic attacks work for you.
Develop a barometer for your panic symptoms
As you become more aware of your panic, its useful to get a sense of how these symptoms vary as your panic increases. Think of this as developing a barometer for your panic symptoms. When youre experiencing mild levels of panic what sort of physical sensations do you notice? What thoughts come up? What do you tend to want to do? How does this compare to when your panic is at a moderate or strong levels?
Knowing the subtle changes that happen as your panic increases is essential. The sooner you recognise panic arising, the sooner you can start taking action to manage the symptoms .
Develop a specific and concrete plan for managing panic attacks
After you have a better idea of what panic attacks are, the next step is creating a specific and concrete plan for coping when you notice panic symptoms popping up.
Ideally have this plan written down somewhere. Many of my clients have a summary plan stored on their phone or in a card in their wallet.
Step #1 Develop a list of your unique panic symptoms
Teaching Your Child About Anxiety
This is a very important first step, as it helps children and teens understand what is happening to them when they experience anxiety. Let your child know that all the worries and physical feelings he or she is experiencing has a name: Anxiety. Help your child understand the facts about anxiety.
- Fact 1: Anxiety is normal and adaptive, as it helps us prepare for danger.
- Fact 2: Anxiety can become a problem when our body tells us that there is danger when there is no real danger.
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Use Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Much like deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques can help stop your panic attack in its tracks by controlling your bodys response as much as possible.
Consciously relax one muscle at a time, starting with something simple like the fingers in your hand, and move your way up through your body.
Muscle relaxation techniques will be most effective when youve practiced them beforehand.
Causes Of Anxiety Fear And Panic
There are many different causes of anxiety, fear or panic and it’s different for everyone.
When you’re feeling anxious or scared, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
This can be helpful in some situations, but it might also cause physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate and increased sweating. In some people, it might cause a panic attack.
Regular anxiety, fear or panic can also be the main symptom of several health conditions. Do not self-diagnose speak to a GP if you’re worried about how you’re feeling.
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Be An Active Participant In Life
Another way to overcome your feelings of isolation is to put yourself out there by getting involved in classes, groups, clubs, or organizations. Do you enjoy any specific activities, such as hiking, reading, or photography? There are social events and meetings for just about any interest.
To get more involved, consider joining a book club at your local library, taking a fitness class at a gym, going to an art class in a craft store, or attending a religious meeting. Group activities can also be found by searching online for specific interest groups, such as walking, knitting, or rock climbing.
You may even find some online interest groups that connect you to people throughout the world through forums, email, and chat. Virtual groups are a great option if you are feeling shy about meeting others or are isolated because of other mental health conditions, such as agoraphobia or social anxiety disorder.
A group setting can help you learn a new skill or share a passion with other like-minded people. Groups and clubs provide a sense of belonging and community and can be a fun way to keep from being so alone.
Let Go Of The Tension
I grind my teeth and tighten up my whole body when I feel a panic attack coming on, or when I’m just super anxious.
You most likely put a lot of tension on your body when you’re reacting to the nervous feelings.
Try to be more conscious of how your body feels. The more tense you are, the harder it is to get yourself to relax. Focus on relaxing your whole body when you’re feeling anxious. Take some deep breaths and releasing all of the built-up tension.
You’ll quickly start to feel calmer and more in control.
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What Is Panic Disorder
If you’re having lots of panic attacks at unpredictable times and there doesn’t seem to be a particular trigger or cause, you might be given a diagnosis of panic disorder. It’s common to experience panic disorder and certain types of phobia together. People who experience panic disorder may have some periods with few or no panic attacks, but have lots at other times.
Panic disorder and high sensitivity
Some research suggests that people who have panic disorder might be very sensitive to sensory experiences , but there’s not enough evidence yet to say for sure.
Also it’s not clear whether having a high level of sensitivity to these sorts of things is something that might cause you to develop panic disorder, or whether it may be an effect of having it.
“Never knowing when I was going to have a panic attack was the worst feeling in the world.”
What To Do When Someone Else Is Having A Panic Attack
This section will provide some tips on how to help a person having a panic attack.
First, try talking them through a few of the methods above. For instance, help them find a peaceful spot, encourage them to take slow, deep breaths, and ask them to focus on a nearby object.
If you do not know the person, introduce yourself and ask them if they need help. Ask them if they have had a panic attack before, and if so, what helps them regain control.
People can also try the following tips when someone else is having a panic attack:
- Try to remain calm. This will help them relax a little more.
- Suggest moving to a quiet spot nearby and help them find one. Sitting down in a comfortable place can be very effective, as it allows them to focus on their breathing.
- Remind the person that panic attacks always end.
- Stay positive and nonjudgmental. Avoid validating any negative statements.
- Try having a gentle, friendly conversation to distract them and help them feel safe.
- Avoid telling them to calm down or telling them that there is nothing to worry about, as this devalues their emotions.
- Stay with them. If they feel that they need to be alone, make sure they remain visible.
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