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.
Strategy #: Bring It On
This sounds weird, but in panic disorder, which is fear of having a panic attack, a little reverse psychology works wonders. When you start to worry about panic or feel that first twinge, tell yourself, All right body, I want more. Lets do this! Hit me with your best shot!
Ironically, being willing to feel panic symptoms will stop the cycle of escalation. After all, panic is the fight-or-flight response gone haywire, so when you try to fight panic itself, it all amplifies exponentially. By contrast, when you welcome in the sensations of fear, your body has no reason to fight or flee.
Think of when you were a little kid and you would make yourself dizzy on purpose or pump higher and higher on the swings to feel your stomach drop. Back then you werent just willing to feel the sensations, it was downright fun. Tap into those memories and lean in.
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.
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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 obsessive-compulsive disorder 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 fear of heights may experience a panic attack in a penthouse apartment.
And for someone with generalized anxiety disorder , 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.
Get Rid Of Panic Attacks Forever
You dont just learn how to get rid of panic attacks fast with the 60 Second Panic Solution. The program also provides a well-thought-out treatment plan that enables users to fully overcome crippling panic attacks and anxiety. This plan, called Thought Patrol, is tried and tested and eliminates panic attacks in less than a month. In just 21 days, users can completely stop panic attacks for good.
Thought Patrol provides a long-term solution for panic and anxiety. It teaches you to program your mind to reject feelings of panic, stress, worry, and anxiety. The result is that disturbing physical symptoms disappear and you feel much more confident. You start thinking and feeling like a normal person again and can gain complete control of your life.
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Panic Attacks I Turned My Mental Health Crisis Into A Mental Health Triumph
Although it’s taken me a long time I have learned I am a strong person who has the potential to help others.
You might find that you become scared of going out alone or to public places because you’re worried about having another panic attack. If this fear becomes very intense, it may be called agoraphobia. See our pages on types of phobia for more information.
I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I just wanted to get out, to go somewhere else, but I couldn’t because I was on a train.
Other Notes For Treating Panic Attacks At Home
The strategies above are only the beginning. You’ll also need to make many life changes that promote panic attack free living.
One example is how you adjust to living with panic disorder. Remember, fear of panic attacks increases the severity of panic attacks, which means that sometimes the best way to treat them is to face your fear and let yourself have an attack. If you find that you get panic attacks when you to go the mall, for example, then you need to make sure that you continue to go to the mall so that your panic attacks don’t control your emotions.
You’ll also need to try to reduce stress around you. You’ll need to spend more time with friends and family doing fun activities so that you aren’t as focused on the present, and you’ll need to learn how to distract yourself when you feel a panic attack coming on . These are all important parts of treatment.
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Mental Health Treatment Program Locator
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides this online resource for locating mental health treatment facilities and programs. The Mental Health Treatment Locator section of the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator lists facilities providing mental health services to persons with mental illness. Find a facility in your state at . For additional resources, visit www.nimh.nih.gov/findhelp.
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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How Do I Get Help
Talking therapies, like counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, are very effective for people with anxiety problems, including Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which takes you through a series of self-help exercises on screen. Visit your GP to find out more.
Drug treatments are used to provide short-term help, rather than looking at the root of the anxiety problems. Drugs may be most useful when they are combined with other treatments or support.
You can learn a lot about managing anxiety from asking other people who have experienced it. Local support groups or self-help groups bring together people with similar experiences so that they can hear each others stories, share tips and encourage each other to try out new ways to manage themselves. Your doctor, library or local Citizens Advice bureau will have details of support groups near you.
Tell Yourself Youre Just Processing Information
When youre suffering from PTSD, panic attacks are so often you cant tell when youre actually having one. Youre in a constant state of fight or flight for months on end. Youre too scared to fall asleep and terrified while being awake. Eventually, when you do finally fall asleep, you wake up from nightmares that scare you awake. Sometimes they come as often as every ten minutes.
A social worker once told me that nightmares are the brains way of processing information. The best way to combat them is to say processing information every time you wake up from one. This little trick has helped desensitize nightmares over the long-term so you feel less panicked after waking up from one.
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Dont Obsess About The Consequences
Another bad habit that people often develop is constantly worrying about the consequences of a panic attack. This means constantly thinking about who might see you having one and what they will think, how it will affect your life etc.
Just by doing this, you are giving yourself extra power to make this come true. You dont need to do this. The reality is that panic attacks can happen anywhere, and they dont have to affect your life in any way whatsoever.
How Long Does Treatment Last
How long treatment continues depends on you. Stopping panic attacks completely is a reasonable goal. Your doctor will design a treatment plan just for you. A treatment period lasting at least 6 to 9 months is usually recommended. Some people taking medicine for panic disorder are able to stop treatment after only a short time. Other people need to continue treatments over a long period of time, or even for their lifetime.
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Give Yourself A Simple Massage
In order to stop panic attacks, youll need to help yourself relax. Unfortunately, going to the spa regularly can be out of some peoples price range. So youll have to practice pampering yourself. There are a few spots that do the trick.
When having a panic attack, massage the top part of your nose between the eyes. Just move your finger up and down gently to help you relax. You can also massage your wrists or feet. Sometimes rubbing your chest above the heart can help you unwind. Some people rub ice on themselves in a massaging motion to help stop panic attacks. So you can try that too!
What Causes Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are a many-faceted problem and the same holds true for the causes of panic attacks.
This means there isn’t one single thing that we can point to as the underlying cause of panic attacks, unfortunately.
There are however certain factors that come together to form conditions that set us up to be more likely to experience panic attacks.
And not only if we just have a panic attack, but if we continue having panic attacks.
It should be made very clear that having panic attacks doesn’t mean you are weak or that you have mental/emotional problems.
It simply means that the environmental, psychological and chemical/biological conditions in you and in your life create a state more likely to experience the sudden onset of fear and panic.
- UNDERLYING FACTORS THAT CAN LEAD TO PANIC ATTACKS:
- Would you consider yourself a perfectionist? Are you obsessive or “anal” about things being right or going a certain way?Do you tend to focus on the negative or find problems in every situation?
It’s important to understand this relationship between the environmental , psychological and the chemical/biological .
We don’t experience panic attacks because of one area alone. It always a combination of these factors.
The panic attack itself is a chemical/biological response and it’s very often our interpretation or fear of this chemical response that takes us down the path of panic.
And we don’t live in isolation.
Our environment is the number one trigger for panic attacks.
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Repeat A Mantra Internally
Repeating a mantra internally can be relaxing and reassuring, and it can give you something to grasp onto during a panic attack.
Whether its simply This too shall pass, or a mantra that speaks to you personally, repeat it on loop in your head until you feel the panic attack start to subside.
It is not always possible to prevent a panic attack, but the following tips may help:
- do breathing exercises every day
- get regular exercise
- follow a diet that is low in added sugar and eat regularly to avoid glucose spikes
- avoid caffeine, smoking, and alcohol, as they may make anxiety worse
- seek counseling and other professional help
- ask your doctor about local support groups
Avoiding specific triggers may help prevent a panic attack, but this may not always be possible or appropriate. Some experts encourage people to ride out the attack and continue doing things, if possible.
However, if a situation is likely to cause severe distress, consider waiting until youve worked with a professional to develop skills and strategies to help you cope.
If you have concerns about panic attacks, consider talking with a doctor, especially if:
- You have
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
Asking questions and providing information to your doctor or health care provider can improve your care. Talking with your doctor builds trust and leads to better results, quality, safety, and satisfaction. Visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website for tips at .
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Panic Attack Treatment And Prevention
Cognitive behavioral therapy and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the first-line, evidence-based treatments for anxiety. These treatments can be used separately or in combination.
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on identifying and addressing anxiety-related thoughts and behaviors. It often involves meeting with a therapist weekly and practicing hands-on strategies each day to manage anxious thoughts and behaviors.
SSRIs are taken daily and can help adjust levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which can affect mood and anxiety. There are many types of SSRIs. A medication provider will determine which one is best for you and will meet with you regularly to monitor benefits and side effects.
Duval doesnt recommend avoidance strategies or using substances such as drugs or alcohol to cope with or abstain from anxious feelings or panic attacks. Incorrect use of substances, including prescriptions, can interfere with relationships and work.
It is a way to mask or avoid the anxiety were not giving ourselves ways to manage it that are going to decrease it long term, Duval says.
Instead, she suggests finding strategies to manage the attacks or reduce the anxiety around having a panic attack.
The challenge is that oftentimes the more we try to prevent something, the more it will happen, Duval says. A big part of managing anxiety and panic is finding ways to face it.
Follow Your Treatment Plan
If you have been experiencing persistent panic attacks, make sure you discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Panic attacks are rarely associated with a serious health issue, but your clinician will be able to rule out the possibility of different mental health and medical conditions.
Depending on your symptoms and needs, your treatment plan may include prescribed medication and psychotherapy. Your doctor will be able to assist you in using effective ways to cope with your panic attacks.
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Who Gets Panic Attacks
At least 6 million Americans suffer from panic attacks and panic disorder both conditions classified as anxiety disorders. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , about 2-3% of Americans experience panic disorder in a given year and it is twice as common in women as in men. Panic disorder typically affects individuals when theyre in their 20s but is also seen in young children, adolescents, and older adults.
Treatment Options For Your Clients
Treatment options are suitable for clients who are experiencing panic attacks because of a clinically significant mental health condition such as panic disorder.
The first port of call for such clients should be Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy . CBT is a diverse therapy that can involve any combination of a suite of therapeutic interventions, unified by the goal of helping your client reevaluate their beliefs and reprogram the habitual links between their beliefs and behaviors.
As the name suggests, the mental health interventions involved in CBT can be categorized as either cognitive or behavioral.
Cognitive therapies involve identifying and disrupting beliefs that cause the negative mood or anxiety that trigger panic attacks and educating patients to understand their panic attacks and put psychological distance between themselves and their experiences.
Behavioral therapies can involve relaxation techniques, practicing how to navigate potentially triggering situations, and exposure therapy, in which a client is safely guided through a direct or visualized experience of a potentially triggering situation.
Whatever combination of interventions works best for your client, CBT has been shown to be a successful therapy in most cases and is well suited to managing panic attacks, where controlling those triggering links between beliefs and behaviors is crucial.
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