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.
Change Your Beliefs To Master Emotion
When I first began the process of monitoring my thoughts and reframing them into positive interpretations of life events, I often felt like I was trying to fool myself.
My emotions were telling me the opposite of what I was trying to convince myself to think. I felt bad and no amount of better storytelling in my mind seemed to help.
This led to an important question
Were my thoughts controlling my emotions, or were my emotions controlling my thoughts?
This question has led to scientific experiments, caused books to be written, and countless discussions to occur.
The answer seems to lie somewhere in the middle. Both your thoughts and emotions interact and influence each other. However, our experience of emotion is much stronger than our experience of thought, so we tend to react much more to how we feel than how we think.
I initially struggled to implement thought reframing because I was trying to change the words in my head to positive when my feelings were negative.
This is when things got interesting
There was one other ingredient I had not considered yet:
It turns out that our feelings are really controlled by our beliefs. What we believe about our life is what we tend to feel.
In particular, what we believe about our future tends to dictate our happiness. If we believe our future is full of good things, we are happy in the present working towards them. If we dont believe there are good things coming, then we are sad, depressed, angry and frustrated.
Preventing A Further Attack
It may help to:
- read a self-help book for anxiety based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy ask your GP to recommend one
- try complementary therapies such as massage and aromatherapy, or activities like yoga and pilates, to help you relax
- learn breathing techniques to help ease symptoms
- do regular physical exercise to reduce stress and tension
- avoid sugary food and drinks, caffeine and alcohol, and stop smoking, as all they can all make attacks worse
For more help, read how to deal with panic attacks.
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Learn To Use Positive Coping Statements
When you are feeling anxious and panicky it can be helpful to have ‘coping statements’ which can be used to remind you that panic is not dangerous and isn’t harmful.
Such statements could be:
- Panic is simply high levels of anxiety
- My anxiety and panic will pass naturally given time. It doesn’t last forever
- I can continue without needing to escape or avoid
- I have never fainted, choked, or had a heart attack
Reminding yourself of these facts can help to prevent further panic cycles happening.
What Are Panic Attacks
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders , a panic attack is an abrupt surge of fear or intense discomfort.
This means a wave of panic could hit you while doing mundane things like taking a walk in the park, or while grocery shopping over the weekend.
However, despite being a sudden attack, not every unexpected feeling of fear or discomfort qualifies as a panic attack.
In particular, if these feelings of fear can be traced to some other condition such as social anxiety disorder, where feelings of panic can worsen when faced with public or social situations, it may be inaccurate to describe such feelings as a panic attack.
While panic attacks may be unexpected, they may also result from dreaded situations such as a performance review at work, or in reaction to a feared object such as an unforeseen financial expense.
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What Causes Panic Disorder
While the exact causes are not known, what researchers do know is that panic disorder does sometimes run in families. And it is often seen in individuals who suffer from other anxiety disorders explains Cole.
For example, a person with may experience a panic attack when their schedule or compulsions are interrupted. Individuals who struggle with specific phobias are also susceptible to panic attacks. A person with an extreme may experience a panic attack in a penthouse apartment.
And for someone with , a condition characterized by extreme fear or worry, the unending anxiety can escalate to a panic attack. People with post-traumatic stress disorder have a higher incidence of panic disorder than the general population. Illness or traumatic events increase the chances of panic attacks.
People with hyperthyroidism , mitral valve prolapse, and other conditions or diseases also may be more easily triggered.
Focus On Your Five Senses
“Focus on your external reality, rather than the symptoms,” advises Bruha. “Use the five senses to ground yourself in the moment.” Be curious about your environment. What can you see, hear, touch, smell or taste?
This is where you can add tactile items to your kit: a fidget spinner, stress ball or a squishy toy.
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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.
Panic Disorder In Children
Panic disorder is more common in teenagers than in younger children.
Panic attacks can be particularly hard for children and young people to deal with. Severe panic disorder may affect their development and learning.
If your child has the signs and symptoms of panic disorder, they should see a GP.
After taking a detailed medical history the GP will carry out a thorough physical examination to rule out any physical causes for the symptoms.
They may refer your child to a specialist for further assessment and treatment. The specialist may recommend a course of CBT for your child.
Screening for other anxiety disorders may also be needed to help find the cause of your child’s panic attacks.
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Can Panic Attacks Be Prevented
Many people look to panic attack prevention methods to eliminate the problem, but there is no sure-fire way to prevent panic attacks or stop them for good. Some people experience panic attacks for a short period, while others have them for the rest of their lives. However, you can do some things to prevent their frequency and make them easier to manage when they do happen:
Can Panic Disorder Be Prevented Or Avoided
You cant prevent panic disorder because doctors arent sure what causes it. But you may be able to prevent a panic attack by knowing your triggers. Your doctor can help with that. He or she can help make sure your panic attacks dont become worse or more frequent. Its also a good idea to be physically active. Getting exercise is a known stress reliever and may also guard you against panic attacks.
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Talking To A Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health
Communicating well with a health care provider can improve your care and help you both make good choices about your health. Find tips to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit at Taking Control of Your Mental Health: Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider. For additional resources, including questions to ask a provider, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website.
If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves,call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK . You also can text the Crisis Text Line or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.
Anxiety And Panic Attacks
Although anxiety may fuel a panic attack, its a separate condition that can be gradual and chronic.
Panic attacks, by contrast, are marked by an intense and overwhelming sense of fear or dread in response to an imminent threat. Panic attacks, often brief, are brought on by the bodys fight or flight response a natural and adaptive process that helps fight off danger or run from it.
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This process can be triggered any time we perceive ourselves to be in harms way and it can happen within the context of any anxiety or stress disorder.
If someone has a fear of dogs, encountering an unfamiliar dog could trigger a panic attack, Duval says. Someone who has social anxiety or worries about being judged negatively by others might have a panic attack when giving a speech or introducing themselves to new people.
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Symptoms Of A Panic Attack
For some people, panic attacks seem to come out of the blue or are triggered by uncomfortable sensations in the body, Duval says.
Signs of a panic attack include:
Feeling like things are unreal or unfamiliar
Fear of dying or fear of losing control
A panic attack would include at least four of these symptoms, Duval says.
She notes that panic attacks can come on quickly and peak, or be at their worst, within 10 minutes. Most attacks resolve relatively quickly, within 30 minutes for most people.
Nor are they dangerous: Panic attacks do not last forever panic will subside on its own, even if you dont do anything, Duval says.
Schedule An Appointment With My Psychiatrist
Panic and anxiety can be overwhelming for the person experiencing these emotions. The fear feels very real in the moment, and you may even feel like you lack control. At My Psychiatrist, we can help treat anxiety disorders and reduce your fears. Our board-certified psychiatrists can diagnose your anxiety disorder and offer treatment to improve your quality of life.
If youre ready to take back control of your life, browse through our list of providers and book an appointment today!
Get Help. Anywhere, Anytime.
Talk to a therapist or psychiatrist when youre feeling anxious, stressed, down, or not like yourself
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Is It Possible To Prevent A Panic Attack
Preventing panic attacks can start with reducing stress in your everyday life. Eating right and drinking plenty of water can help, but regular exercise and proper sleep hygiene are even more integral to stress reduction. Getting regular exercise, which for most people is 150 minutes or more of elevated heart rate activity per week, has been shown to help elevate your mood and offset some of the feelings of anxiety and depression that fuel panic attacks. Getting enough sleep also helps reduce stress overall.
When you reduce stressors in your life, the threshold for panic attacks lessens. Practicing daily meditation or engaging in a meditative exercise like yoga can help you frame your mental state and focus your thoughts. If you meditate daily, you may be able to use your meditation techniques to help lessen a panic attack when it happens or prevent one from starting entirely.
Stay Socially Engaged And Get Support
Prioritize maintaining a strong social network. This could look like a small group of close, trusted friends or a wider net. Social interactions can distract you from your own stressors and give you someone to turn to when you need to talk.
Spending time with friends and family who you feel safe and comfortable around can help limit social anxiety. It can also provide a safe space to share feelings and stresses to prevent them from building up inside you.
You might also find it helpful to connect with others who are dealing with anxiety. Youre not limited to in-person connection, either. You can reach out online, on the phone, or through video chat.
Resources for anxiety
back thousands of years.
During an acupuncture session, a practitioner will insert tiny, thin needles into pressure points on your body. Putting pressure on these points is thought to balance the bodys systems, reducing pain and stress.
suggests acupuncture may be a safe and effective alternative way to alleviate anxiety. However, experts agree more research is needed to determine its efficacy.
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Will These Panic Attacks Ever Go Away
February 19, 2012 by Russ Pond
Ive asked this question hundreds of times, maybe thousands of times. Ive even waffled in my answer over the years. Am I destined to live with panic attacks the rest of my life, or can I be free?
When I was younger and the panic attacks were frequent, I was desperate for hope. I was searching for something to alleviate that onslaught of fear and confusion. Alcohol provided temporary relief, but it always left me more anxious and panicky the next day when it wore off. Medication was helpful, but like alcohol, the panic and fear would return after the medication was out of my system.
I spent lots of time sitting in front of counselors, psychiatrists, doctors, psychologistsanyone who could help me get out of this terrifying condition. But for years, there was no relief. It was then that I landed at the conclusion that maybe, like diabetes or high cholesterol, I would have this disease the rest of my life. I had lost hope.
Then, something happened that changed everything. I met a gentleman who had lived a life of fear and panic attacks, but now he was free. Could it be? Can you get free from fear and panic attacks?
This new information set me on a course to learn as much as I could about freedom from fear, anxiety and panic attacks. And, heres what I learned:
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.
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Reduce Your Reframe Time
Being mindful is a practice.
If you have never tried it before, which was the case for me, you will find yourself defaulting to your habits over and over again.
At first, I found it empowering just to realize I had thought-habits. Prior to this, I lived within the habits, the negative thought patterns. Now I could step outside them and see them for what they were.
As I began to proactively work to change my thought-response, it became clear like all skills, practice was required.
Initially, Id spend hours lost in bad thoughts, reacting negatively to events, then finally Id stop myself and reframe my perceptions to create new, more empowering meaning.
Day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month, I improved my thought-change response time. What previously took me hours, would require only an hour, then thirty minutes, then ten minutes, to stop my thoughts and reframe them.
Then one day something magical happened.
I had a negative thought and instantly stopped and changed it.
It all happened in a split second. I interpreted something that just happened to me, for example, a customer asking for a refund from my business, and instead of using that as fuel for a negative thought train, I instantly reframed.
Customer refunds are rare, Ill get more customers in the future, everything is going great. Lets get back to work! is what I told myself.
I had to literally practice this for months, every day reminding myself that thinking right was the pathway to feeling right.
If You Think You Have Panic Disorder Self
Many individuals with panic disorder realize they have the disorder after a trip to the emergency room , as panic attack symptoms can easily be mistaken for a heart attack or stroke. An ER can only offer short-term relief or provide a referral to mental health services.
Many people who are concerned about panic disorder visit their primary care provider . Unfortunately, according to Gruner, PCPs can sometimes mistreat panic disorder by prescribing benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam or klonopin . However, current research shows that benzos are a counterproductive long-term treatment approach.
Benzodiazepines can reduce your anxiety in the short-term, but people can become dependent on them to the point where they dont feel safe without it. They usually attribute progress to the benzo, so it can make treatment progress difficult, says Gruner.
Gruner advises individuals to be wary if their PCP prescribes benzodiazepines. There is increased awareness among PCPs now with the problem of prescribing benzos to people with panic disorder, but its not perfect, says Gruner. So, its worth educating yourself about effective treatment before meeting with your PCP.
Ideally, a PCP would recommend a therapist or psychiatrist. A cognitive behavioral therapist who has experience with anxiety disorders is an ideal choice.
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