How To Help Someone Whos Having A Panic Attack
It can be really difficult when someone you care about is experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, but there are things you can do to help. Here are some tips:
Remain calm: If they see that you’re also panicking, it might make things worse.
Guide their breathing: Have them inhale slowly, completely filling their lungs, then exhale slowly, completely emptying their lungs. You can also do this with them so that they feel supported and less alone.
Remind them it’ll be over soon: This will help them direct their focus to the fact that their panic attack is temporary and that they will be okay.
Use grounding techniques: Give them a lemon or sour candy and have them focus on the taste. You can also hand them something cold, like ice cubes, or have them run cold water over their wrists.
Ask them what you can do to help them: Even if they cant answer you at the time, try to have a conversation after the attack to see what would be helpful next time so that youre prepared if it happens again.
Are Anxiety And Panic Attacks Dangerous
While anxiety and panic attacks feel very distressing, they arenot dangerous on their own.
That said, the first time someone experiences these symptoms, they should go to the ER to rule out something more serious like a heart attack or blood clot.
People who have recurring anxiety or panic attacks usually begin to recognize the sensations and are able to distinguish them fromsomething more serious.
Anxiety and panic attacks rarely last longer than an hour, and usually less than half an hour. If the symptoms are lasting longer than usual, are more intense, feel different than they usually do, dont respond to efforts to calm down, have symptoms that are not consistent with a panic attack , or there is a question it could be something other than a anxiety or a panic attack, go to the ER.
While anxiety and panic attacks themselves are not dangerous, they can be a symptom of more serious underlying conditions. Its important to see a healthcare provider to test for physical conditions, and to find the specific cause of the attacks.
Treatments For Panic Attacks And Anxiety Attacks
The most effective treatments for both panic and anxiety attacks is therapy, even if it is short-term. As these attacks can be brought on by fear, worry, stress, or a disorder, a professional can help you get to the root of the problem.
Here are some types of therapy to treat panic and anxiety attacks and disorders:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Exposure therapy for panic disorder
- Exposure therapy for panic disorder with agoraphobia
You can also take preventative steps to avoid both kinds of attacks. Some helpful things to reduce panic and anxiety include:
- Managing your stress
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Do Doctors Diagnose Anxiety Attacks
Because anxiety attack is not defined clinically, your doctor may not really be able to diagnose it or use the term anxiety attack.
However, the following associated terms can be diagnosed:
- Anxiety symptoms
- Panic disorders
However, the good news is, with the symptom present in an anxiety attack, it can be treated.
The Differences Between Panic Attacks And Anxiety Attack
Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are often described similarly, and many people may experience both at the same time. Feelings of panic and anxiety typically feel alike, as both trigger the fight-or-flight response in the body. Although the two share similar emotional and physical responses, panic attacks and anxiety attacks are different conditions.
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Panic Attack And Symptoms
Panic disorder is a term used to describe a series of recurrent panic attacks and was officially recognized as a distinct psychiatric disorder about 30 years ago.
Panic attacks usually come as unexpected intense fear in which about 4 out of about 13 symptoms that characterizes panic attacks develop rapidly and gets to its peak within 10 minutes of its onset.
It is easier to define a panic attack since it is a clinical term and has an official definition in the DSM.
According to the DSM, A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe and serious physical reactions when there isnt a real danger or apparent cause for it.
Panic Disorder Vs Anxiety What Is Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is a specific type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by specific symptoms of extreme fear and anxiety that can lead to whats known as panic attacks. So, panic attacks are a defining characteristic of panic disorder. Furthermore, panic attacks arent the only thing that defines panic disorder. In fact, the most defining symptom of this disorder is that a person not only has panic attacks but has a debilitating fear of having more panic attacks. So, panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that involves having panic attacks and continual fear of having panic attacks.
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How To Stop Panic And Anxiety Attacks And Treatment Options
Treatment option for the two could vary as their symptoms are not the same, but one sure thing is whether you are suffering from anxiety or panic attack, there are effective treatment options available for you.
The commonly used treatment options include:
- Medications like anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs and benzodiazepines can help reduce particularly the most severe symptoms
- Therapy, which can help in dealing with the past and development of management techniques.
- Self-help strategies could help you work your way through your management techniques at a pace that works for you. For example, breathing, meditation and mindfulness techniques.
Sometimes depending on the severity of the attacks, it might be necessary to combine two or more of these treatment options for a more effective outcome.
When Might I Have Panic Attacks
Panic attacks happen at different times for everyone. Some people have one panic attack then don’t ever experience another, or you might find that you have them regularly, or several in a short space of time. You might notice that particular places, situations or activities seem to trigger panic attacks. For example, they might happen before a stressful appointment.
Most panic attacks last between 5 to 20 minutes. They can come on very quickly. Your symptoms will usually be at their worst within 10 minutes. You might also experience symptoms of a panic attack over a longer period of time. This could be because you’re having a second panic attack, or you’re experiencing other symptoms of anxiety.
“My panic attacks seem to come out of the blue now. But in fact, they seem to be triggered mainly at night when I want to go to sleep but cannot stop my mind racing, experiencing worry and panic about anything that may be on my mind.”
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What Is The Difference Between A Panic Attack And Anxiety Attack
Theres a lot of talk about the terms panic attack and anxiety attacks on media websites, television, and various local communities.
Despite these discussions, people struggle to understand the difference between panic disorder and anxiety disorder, which means they often get used interchangeably.
In clinical practice, anxiety and panic disorders get identified as having different features, and mental health professionals use these terms to diagnose specific conditions and symptoms.
Are Panic Attacks And Anxiety Attacks The Same
We all worry from time to time. Yet panic and anxiety attacks are distinct from normal fear. Theyre accompanied by emotional and physical symptoms that can make it difficult to get on with your day.
Panic attacks appear to come out of nowhere. They are considered to be more intense than anxiety attacks, and usually peak and subside within 10 minutes or so.
Panic attacks are recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . Theyre linked with panic disorder, which impacts 2.7% of adults in the United States, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America .
On the other hand, anxiety attacks arent officially recognized by the DSM-5, so the definition of what constitutes an attack can be a bit vague.
Anxiety attacks are associated with a few conditions, including:
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Have Anxiety Or Panic Youre Far From Alone
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that some 40 million U.S. adults experience significant anxiety each year, with more than 28.8% of adults experiencing clinically meaningful anxiety symptoms.
Thats nearly one in three people.
Anxiety is Americas most common mental illness and can be treated effectively. However, only around one third of those with the condition seek professional help.
Anxiety disorders are hereditary, which means that if you have a relative with anxiety, you are more likely to experience it yourself.
Panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder, affects about 4.7% of U.S. adults at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks, as well as fear of experiencing another episode. Agoraphobia, the fear of being somewhere where escape or help would be difficult in the event of a panic attack, may also accompany a panic disorder. If you have agoraphobia, you are likely to avoid public places such as shopping malls, or confined spaces such as an airplane.
Phobias And Irrational Fears
A phobia is an unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little to no danger. Common phobias include fear of animals , fear of flying, and fear of heights. In the case of a severe phobia, you might go to extreme lengths to avoid the object of your fear. Unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the phobia.
Some People May Develop Panic Disorders
For many people, the feelings of panic occur only occasionally during periods of stress or illness. A person who experiences recurring panic attacks is said to have panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder. They generally have recurring and unexpected panic attacks and persistent fears of repeated attacks.
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Anxiety Attack And Symptoms
The term anxiety attack does not exist in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , yet people have reportedly experienced it. In fact, according to Dr. Helen Odessky, a Chicago therapist, research shows that 18% of people in the US have been reported to have significant anxiety issues.
The fact that it is not in the DSM however, leaves it as more of a colloquial term than a clinical term. People use the term to describe an extended and intense period of worry and anxiety.
Deducing from those that suffer from it, an anxiety attack is more intense than the mere feeling of anxiety but less severe than a panic attack at a given episode.
Many patients must have used this term in therapy sessions that physicians, therapists and mental health professionals have started to take due note of it even though it is not yet official.
Difference Between Anxiety And Panic Attacks
Anxiety vs Panic Attacks
It is said that one out of three adults will experience at least one episode of either panic or anxiety attack in his or her lifetime. Yet, the striking challenge is identifying which one is panic and which is considered as anxiety attack. The technique however is to observe what your body is doing and how you react to the stressor, that is if ever you are still sane or calm enough to observe the things happening to you.
Foremost, it is more appropriate to say that one or more of your anxieties can lead to a panic attack rather than vice versa. Generally, the duration of anxiety attacks is said to be longer than panic attacks. Nevertheless, this is not always the case because there are several panic attacks that last for more than a day. Anxiety slowly surfaces and gradually builds up until it will become too uncomfortable for the person experiencing such. On the contrary, panic attack occurs abruptly to the point that it immediately overwhelms the person, without any form of warning.
Panic attack happens because one worries too much. He or she is overly anxious to the extreme level. Constant worrying and thinking about negative thoughts over and over again predisposes a person from suffering such an attack.
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Train Your Brain To Fight Anxiety
Research has shown that neurofeedback therapy might help in increasing alpha brainwave activity in individuals that have panic disorder. Alpha brainwave activity is linked to a reduction in stress, anxiety, discomfort, and pain.
Neurofeedback is a non-invasive methodology that measures brainwave activity and can train the brain using visual and auditory cues. Its based on a learning method called operant conditioning, which involves rewards and punishments for behavior.
Through operant conditioning, an association is made between a behavior and a consequence , with the goal of training the participants brain to regulate itself and help you understand when your brain is in the desired state. Eventually, your brain may be able to maintain a more balanced state even when it’s not receiving feedback.
In one study, researchers assigned participants with diagnosed panic disorder to a 7-week neurofeedback program to increase their range of alpha waves and relieve abnormal anxiety.
The study showed an increase in participants’ alpha brainwave activity. Also, scores on an anxiety questionnaire showed that the mental symptoms, physical symptoms, and fear were significantly lower.
These results are consistent with earlier findings showing that neurofeedback can relieve anxiety. Visit our research overview article for a comprehensive summary of neurofeedback research with supporting scientific references.
Anxiety Can Be Our Friend
We, as humans, need anxiety. Why? Anxiety is information.
It tells us when we must freeze, flee, or fight and mobilizes our body to respond quickly, without thinking. Without anxiety, we would not be able to avoid real threats to our well-being.
However, we also feel anxiety about imagined threats that may or may not be meaningful or real. In a sense, our minds have evolved to be extra careful about threat detection. They are more likely to evaluate things as threats than not. This way we do not miss anything that might harm us.
Also, our minds do not have an off button. This means that sometimes anxiety becomes a problem because it doesnt give us useful information and contributes to our distress and avoidance.
All humans experience anxiety when they experience stressful events, such as receiving an upsetting medical diagnosis. Public speaking, social events, relationship problems, stress on the job, and financial worries are also common triggers that make people feel anxious. However, sometimes life events can trigger anxiety disorders or panic disorder. So, whats the difference?
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What Is A Panic Attack
A panic attack is an episode of severe fear, panic, and anxiety that comes on suddenly. And, while theyre often provoked by high levels of stress or worry, people with panic disorder can have them without any triggering scenarios. During a panic attack, a person can experience a number of physical symptoms which are extremely frightening. For example, severe chest pains can resemble the same chest pains people experience during heart attacks. Other physical symptoms that accompany panic attacks can include racing heartbeat, sweating, fainting or seizures, and chills.
Who is Affected by Panic Attacks?
Experiencing a panic attack is the main reason for the development of panic disorder. Essentially, the terrifying experience of having a panic attack leads to the development of fear surrounding panic attacks, which is what panic disorder is. But, some people may be more susceptible to experiencing panic attacks and, therefore, developing panic disorder. Some of the causes of the development of panic attacks and panic disorder include:
Concurring Mental Health Issues: People that have concurring mental health issues are more prone to experiencing panic attacks. Thus, they are also more prone to developing panic disorder. These mental health issues can include PTSD, depression, and other anxiety disorders.
Substance Abuse Disorder: People living with addiction are also at a higher risk for experiencing panic attacks and developing panic disorder.
What Is The Difference Between A Panic Attack And An Anxiety Attack
Dr. Cathy Frank answers the question: ‘Panic Attack Versus Anxiety Attack?’
— Question: What is the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack?
Answer: There are similarities and differences between anxiety and panic attacks. An anxiety attack often comes in reaction to a stressor. You’re walking down a dark alley and hear footsteps, or you’re at even the top of a rollercoaster and looking to go down that large hill.
An anxiety attack, people may feel fearful, apprehensive, may feel their heart racing or feel short of breath, but it’s very short lived, and when the stressor goes away, so does the anxiety attack.
Panic attack on the other hand doesn’t come in reaction to a stressor. It’s unprovoked and unpredictable. And during a panic attack the individual is seized with terror, fear, or apprehension. They may feel that they’re going to die, or lose control or have a heart attack. They have a host of physical symptoms which may include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea. And in addition to these terrifying panic attacks, people start worrying about having the next one. So there’s a lot of what’s called anticipatory anxiety.
Also, they start avoiding places where they have a panic attack. So if they had one in a grocery store for example, they may stop going to the store. The good news is even though this is a very common disorder, it is very treatable.
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