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How To Handle Panic Attacks

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Ways To Deal With Anxiety And Panic

How To Deal With Panic Attacks

07.05.21 | by Jason Drwal | Anxiety Management

We all have anxiety and worries but sometimes they hold us back from living life: traveling, starting relationships, making friends, getting out of the house, having peace of mind. I would love to see you get more out of life but maybe panic or anxiety is holding you back. If so, you may not know where to start or whats that first step. Heres help. This is a list of small but significant changes you can start today and many take 5 minutes or less. Pick at least one to try today. Change happens because of an accumulation of small victories, not a single action.

Learn guided imagery. There are tons of videos on YouTube. Heres one of my favorites: Self-Esteem, A Guided Relaxation Session.

Take a walk. Any kind of exercise burns off stress, lifts the mood, and helps you deal with anxiety and panic.

Meditate. Its simple and will improve your mood, reduce anxiety, and teach you how to be calm after an anxiety and attack. This is a great video: Guided Meditation for Detachment from Overthinking by Michael Sealey.

Practice Yoga. Its physically active, it will limber your body, and release your tension. Even just once a week is helpful. Yoga for Complete Beginners is a good video. If its not your cup of tea, youtube is teeming with others.

Practice Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a gentle form of movement based on an ancient Chinese practice. Its easy on the body but focuses the mind and is great for people who struggle to sit still.

Diagnosis Of Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder

  • A doctor’s evaluation, based on specific criteria

Because serious physical disorders often cause some of the same physical and emotional symptoms as panic attacks, doctors first make sure people do not have a physical disorder.

Panic disorder is diagnosed when people have repeated unprovoked and unexpected panic attacks plus at least one of the following for at least 1 month:

  • Persistent worry that they will have more panic attacks or worry about the consequences of the attack

  • Changes in behavior due to the panic attacks

Once doctors are confident that a person’s symptoms are caused by a panic disorder, they try to avoid doing extensive tests when future panic attacks occur unless the person’s symptoms or physical examination results suggest a new problem.

Family History Of Panic Attacks Or Anxiety Disorders

If you have a family member who suffers from panic attacks or anxiety disorders, you are more likely to experience them yourself. This is because there is a genetic component to these conditions. Though experts arent sure exactly how panic disorder is passed down, it is clear that it can be inherited.

Recommended Reading: What Does A Ptsd Flashback Look Like

How To Help Via Text Message

If youre out and about when you get a text from someone that says, I think Im having a panic attack, what do you do?

One of the best things you can do is offer supportive phrases that reinforce their ability to cope. Try a few of these supportive phrases:

  • This is time-limited. It will pass.
  • Youre doing a great job.
  • Im confident that you can handle this.
  • Youre going to get through this!

Whether in person or over text, try to avoid making a big deal of their symptoms. Your role can be to help them extinguish the idea that a panic attack is dangerous or intolerable, and remind them that they can handle this experience. You can then offer to help reconnect if they need more support later on.

Signs And Symptoms Of Panic Disorder

How To Deal With Panic Attacks Marg Ryan Relationship

While many people experience just one or two panic attacks without further episodes or complicationsand theres little reason to worry if thats yousome people go on to develop panic disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by repeated panic attacks, combined with major changes in behavior or persistent anxiety over having further attacks.

You may be suffering from panic disorder if you:

  • Experience frequent, unexpected panic attacks that arent tied to a specific situation
  • Worry a lot about having another panic attack
  • Are behaving differently because of the panic attacks, such as avoiding places where youve previously panicked

While a single panic attack may only last a few minutes, the effects of the experience can leave a lasting imprint. If you have panic disorder, the recurrent panic attacks take an emotional toll. The memory of the intense fear and terror that you felt during the attacks can negatively impact your self-confidence and cause serious disruption to your everyday life. Eventually, this leads to the following panic disorder symptoms:

Anticipatory anxiety Instead of feeling relaxed and like your normal self in between panic attacks, you feel anxious and tense. This anxiety stems from a fear of having future panic attacks. This fear of fear is present most of the time, and can be extremely disabling.

Also Check: Mediocre Medical Symptoms Of Anxiety

Understand Their Panic May Not Make Sense To You Or Them

Panic attacks can be confusing as well as scary. People generally cant predict them and theres often no clear cause. They can happen in stressful situations but also during calm moments or even during sleep.

It might seem helpful to tell your friend theres nothing to be afraid of. But theyre probably perfectly aware theres no actual threat.

Thats part of what makes panic attacks so confusing. The reaction matches a fear response but nothings happening to cause that fear. In response, someone who gets panic attacks might begin to fear the symptoms themselves, or link them to a serious health issue.

Its typical to feel embarrassed or ashamed of such an intense reaction, Bingham explains. But having a trusted companion offer compassion can allow space for the person to return to baseline.

You can be that person even without understanding why they get panic attacks. Thats far less important than your ability to offer empathy and recognize their distress as real and significant.

How To Help Someone Who Is Having A Panic Attack

  • Stay with the person

    If you can, stay with the person during their panic attack. Just by you being there, you can help them to calm down and remind them that help is available. It is okay if you are finding it overwhelming. You can find another friend, family member or teacher they trust to support your friend and you.

  • Talk to them and encourage them

    You can chat to the person about how they are feeling or anything that they like, such as favourite Netflix shows or their hobbies. This can distract them from their anxious thoughts, helping them to feel calm and to slow down their breathing. They might find it difficult to talk and might want to focus on their breath – thats okay and its important to respect their boundaries and how they are feeling.

  • Check in with your friend

    Even though your friend may no longer be panicking, they can still feel anxious or on edge afterwards. You can check in with them to see how they are feeling. This will remind them that they are not alone and you are there for them.

Talk about how you can support themIf your friend feels comfortable to, you can suggest talking about how you can support them in the future. This can be things like helping them find a safe space or finding breathing exercises that can help in the moment. This will help them feel better about coping with panic attacks.

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Engage In Light Exercise

Research shows that regular exercise can not only keep the body healthy but boost mental well-being, too.

Experts have found that exercising at 60 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate for 20 minutes three times per week can help reduce anxiety.

If you are not used to exercising, talk with your doctor before starting. There is some evidence that starting aerobic exercise anew can trigger additional anxiety in people with an anxiety disorder. Building up gradually can help your body adjust and avoid breathing problems. Aerobic exercise includes activities such as running on a treadmill.

If you feel stressed or youre hyperventilating or struggling to breathe, stop and take a rest or choose a more moderate option, such as walking, swimming, or yoga.

Treatment For Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder

How to Deal with Anxiety & Panic Attacks

The most effective form of professional treatment for tackling panic attacks, panic disorder, and agoraphobia is therapy. Even a short course of treatment can help.

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the thinking patterns and behaviors that are sustaining or triggering your panic attacks and helps you look at your fears in a more realistic light. For example, if you had a panic attack while driving, what is the worst thing that would really happen? While you might have to pull over to the side of the road, you are not likely to crash your car or have a heart attack. Once you learn that nothing truly disastrous is going to happen, the experience of panic becomes less terrifying.

Panic attacks: what they are and what to do about them Free course to help you manage panic.

Panic Disorder Explanatory video from Khan Academy and American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Hotlines and support

NAMI Helpline Trained volunteers can provide information, referrals, and support for those suffering from anxiety disorders in the U.S. Call 1-800-950-6264.

Find a Therapist Search for anxiety disorder treatment providers in the U.S.

Support Groups List of support groups in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and South Africa.

Anxiety UK Information, support, and a dedicated helpline for UK sufferers and their families. Call: 03444 775 774.

Anxiety Canada Provides links to services in different Canadian provinces.

Read Also: Phases Of Schizophrenia

What Are The Signs Of A Panic Attack

If you’re having a panic attack, you may experience:

  • tingling fingers
  • ringing in your ears

Some people think they are having a heart attack because it feels like their heart is beating fast or irregularly, or even that they are going to die.

Panic attacks usually last somewhere from 5 to 20 minutes. Although it may feel like something is seriously wrong, they aren’t dangerous and shouldn’t harm you.

You wont usually need to be admitted to hospital if you have had a panic attack.

What Are Panic Attacks

A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear or anxiety that can cause physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Panic attacks are often triggered by stressful situations, such as public speaking or flying on an airplane. However, they can also occur without any obvious trigger.

Panic attacks usually last for a few minutes, but the feeling of terror and dread can last much longer. Many people experience recurrent panic attacks, which can lead to a diagnosis of panic disorder. Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by recurring and unexpected panic attacks.

Read Also: What Does The Word Phobia Mean

Visualize A Positive Outcome

If you dread being in public, you may have already made up your mind that the experience can only be negative. However, the way you feel in public may be influenced by your negative perceptions and predictions.

Visualization is a technique you can use to overcome these limiting beliefs and increase your self-reliance while being in public.

Visualization involves closing your eyes and envisioning yourself in different circumstances. Through visualization, you can imagine what it would be like to successfully manage your anxiety while in public. Similar to daydreaming, this exercise allows you to tap into your senses and imagination to see yourself achieving positive outcomes.

For example, you may visualize yourself utilizing your coping techniques to face public situations with more relaxed confidence. By visualizing success, you may feel more ready to deal with your symptoms in public.

Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder

How to Deal with Anxiety or Panic Attacks

panic attackPanic disorder

  • Panic attacks can cause such symptoms as chest pain, a sensation of choking, dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath.

  • Doctors base the diagnosis on the person’s description of attacks and fears of future attacks.

  • Treatment may include antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, exposure therapy, and psychotherapy.

Panic attacks may occur as part of any anxiety disorder Overview of Anxiety Disorders Anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, worry, or unease that is a normal human experience. It is also present in a wide range of psychiatric disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder,… read more . Panic attacks may also occur in people with other psychiatric disorders . Some panic attacks occur in response to a specific situation. For example, a person with a phobia of snakes may panic when encountering a snake. Other attacks occur without any apparent trigger.

Panic attacks are common, occurring in at least 11% of adults each year. Most people recover from panic attacks without treatment, but a few develop panic disorder.

Also Check: Phobic Definition

Treatment Of Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder

  • Antidepressants and/or antianxiety drugs

  • Psychotherapy, including exposure therapy

Without formal treatment, some people recover, particularly if they continue to confront situations in which attacks have occurred. For others, symptoms wax and wane for years.

However, if people have had frequent attacks and have changed their behavior to avoid future attacks, treatment with drugs and/or psychotherapy is usually necessary. People with panic disorder are more receptive to treatment if they understand that the disorder involves both physical and psychologic processes and that treatment can usually control the symptoms.

Depression Anxiety And Your Health

Anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, often occur with other serious mental health issues such as depression. They can seriously affect your quality of life and have been linked to other health issues, including insomnia, alcohol abuse, and other health issues. Learning to manage your fears with hypnosis treatment for anxiety can help you reduce the risk of these other issues and improve your quality of life, too.

While there are many treatment options for managing anxiety, some of the most common include:

  • Stress management
  • 2Hypnosis is a Legitimate Tool for Wellness Backed by Science Many people ask if hypnotherapy is effective.

Changing your behavior and attitudes can alleviate your stress and worry and give you new ways to cope with the challenges of life. Unfortunately, it can be tough to do through willpower alone. This is why hypnosis can be such a powerful ally. With hypnotherapy for social anxiety, you can begin to implement the necessary changes in your life easily and effectively.

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What Makes A Home Panic Attack Treatment

It’s never a bad idea to consult a professional for treatment. There are proven techniques that can help reduce the frequency and severity of your panic attacks, and even some of the home remedies listed below work better when you can be observed by someone that can help if your anxiety becomes too overwhelming.

Similarly, you should always visit your doctor before starting any panic attack treatment. Physical causes of panic attacks are rare, but unless you visit a doctor, you’ll always have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that your panic attacks represent something else – some type of health problem. Seeing a doctor relieves some of this anxiety. But be warned, many people still convince themselves that the doctor is missing something, so don’t expect seeing a doctor to take away all of your anxieties.

Finally, not all home remedies stop panic attacks altogether. Some simply reduce the severity or the frequency. But if your panic attacks are less severe, you’ll fear them less, and if you fear them less, you’ll be less prone to future panic attacks.

The following are some effective home ways to treat panic attacks:

Sharing About Your Panic Attacks

How to manage panic attacks

You dont need to share with your boss or HR that you get panic attacks. However, if you choose to disclose your panic disorder, remember that you get to decide how much you want to share. Disclosure about your panic disorder may be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act or equivalent, which means that your disclosure cannot be cause for dismissal or demotion. It also means that you may qualify for accommodations, such as taking more breaks. Check with a lawyer to see what applies in your area.

Although panic attacks can be distressing, the implications for how people see you at work can cause additional stress. The strategies described here can help you manage your symptoms and keep them from taking over your workday. Of course, dont neglect to seek out professional support and guidance as well if you need it.

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Dont Shame Or Minimize

Its pretty common to worry about having a panic attack, especially in front of strangers, or believe the attack might annoy or inconvenience friends or loved ones.

People struggling with anxiety or panic attacks might intellectually understand the response is illogical. But hearing that from someone else can increase their isolation, Bingham explains.

Avoid saying things like:

  • Just relax. Theres nothing to be afraid of.
  • Youre upset over that?
  • Whats wrong with you?

You might not intend to make your friend feel ashamed, but denying the reality of their distress can certainly have that effect.

Assessing Panic Attacks: 3 Tests & Questionnaires

Here are a few tools your client can use to examine their panic attacks and the relevant aspects of their mental health:

  • The Panic Attack Questionnaire is the most widely used clinical tool for assessing the severity and characteristics of panic attacks and can help you and your client better understand their unique experience.
  • The Generalized Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire is used as part of a diagnosis of a variety of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, and might be useful for examining whether your clients panic attacks are isolated or part of a broader mental health issue.
  • The British National Health Service hosts a depression and anxiety self-assessment quiz that may be a useful tool for clients of any nationality to examine their general mental health, which may provide useful insight into the general triggers of their panic attacks.

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