Coping With The Aftermath And Getting Help
Its common to feel completely wiped out as your body and its processes return to normal after an extreme fear response. Someone whos just had a panic attack might not feel up to anything beyond quiet relaxation. Relax if you can, and be kind to yourself.
Panic attacks can be one of the first signs you have PTSD or C-PTSD. So, if you start to experience them, it is wise to seek professional help you may not have PTSD, but there are a number of conditions which can cause panic attacks, and they will be able to help you.
It can take time for someone with PTSD to learn relaxation techniques that work for them. Meanwhile keep reminding yourself these unpleasant experiences are temporary, and cant cause lasting damage.
NICE guidance updated in 2018 recommends the use of trauma focused psychological treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in adults, specifically the use of Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing and trauma focused cognitive behavioural therapy .
Please remember, these arent meant to be medical recommendations, but theyre tactics that have worked for others and might work for you, too. Be sure to work with a professional to find the best methods for you.
Tip : Support Treatment
Despite the importance of your love and support, it isnt always enough. Many people who have been traumatized need professional PTSD therapy. But bringing it up can be touchy. Think about how youd feel if someone suggested that you needed therapy.
Wait for the right time to raise your concerns. Dont bring it up when youre arguing or in the middle of a crisis. Also, be careful with your language. Avoid anything that implies that your loved one is crazy. Frame it in a positive, practical light: treatment is a way to learn new skills that can be used to handle a wide variety of PTSD-related challenges.
Emphasize the benefits. For example, therapy can help them become more independent and in control. Or it can help reduce the anxiety and avoidance that is keeping them from doing the things they want to do.
Focus on specific problems. If your loved one shuts down when you talk about PTSD or counseling, focus instead on how treatment can help with specific issues like anger management, anxiety, or concentration and memory problems.
Acknowledge the hassles and limitations of therapy. For example, you could say, I know that therapy isnt a quick or magical cure, and it may take a while to find the right therapist. But even if it helps a little, it will be worth it.
Encourage your loved one to join a support group. Getting involved with others who have gone through similar traumatic experiences can help some people with PTSD feel less damaged and alone.
What Do I Do If I Feel A Panic Attack Coming
As soon as you feel the first signs of a panic attack such as a higher-than-normal heartbeat try to de-escalate it by breathing deeply, and thinking of calming things. Ask family and friends to help you to deal with these initial stages, by distracting and soothing you too.
Here are some other examples of things people to do help panic attacks from occurring, or to help defuse them once they begin:
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Most People Know That The Symptoms Of Post
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that some people develop after a traumatic life event. Usually, this life event is something very upsetting or disturbing, such as combat, a natural disaster, a car accident or sexual assault. Sometimes PTSD develops after less significant events. The effect that this event has on an individual and their reaction to it plays a fundamental role in the development of PTSD.
Living with PTSD can make a person feel constantly uneasy, on-edge, scared and depressed. The symptoms of PTSD affect each person differently. However, there are some side effects and common features that are worth considering when trying to understand what PTSD feels like.
When It Is Ptsd
As you probably noticed, there are many symptoms of PTSD, and very few people have all of them. Also, not everyone who experiences a trauma will develop PTSD. So how do you know if you might have PTSD? Here are 2 tips that might be helpful:
Tip #1: If you have at least 1 symptom in each of the 4 categories, and your symptoms only started AFTER a traumatic event, then you might have PTSD. If your anxiety symptoms were already present before the trauma, then it is probably not PTSD.
Tip #2: It is normal to feel more anxious right after a trauma. But over time, these anxious feelings will settle down. If these symptoms do not settle down then you might have PTSD.
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How Is Ptsd Treated
It is important for anyone with PTSD symptoms to work with a mental health professional who has experience treating PTSD. The main treatments are psychotherapy, medications, or both. An experienced mental health professional can help people find the treatment plan that meets their symptoms and needs.
Some people with PTSD may be living through an ongoing trauma, such as being in an abusive relationship. In these cases, treatment is usually most effective when it addresses both the traumatic situation and the symptoms. People who have PTSD or who are exposed to trauma also may experience panic disorder, depression, substance use, or suicidal thoughts. Treatment for these conditions can help with recovery after trauma. Research shows that support from family and friends also can be an important part of recovery.
For tips to help prepare and guide you on how to talk to your health care provider about your mental health and get the most out of your visit, read NIMHs fact sheet, Taking Control of Your Mental Health: Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider.
Arousal And Reactivity Symptoms Include:
- Being easily startled
- Feeling tense or on edge
- Having difficulty sleeping
- Having angry outbursts
Arousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic events. These symptoms can make the person feel stressed and angry. They may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
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Getting Disturbed By Unrelated Events
PTSD attacks can be triggered by seemingly unrelated events because they can serve as a reminder of the traumatic event. For example, an argument with your partner may remind you of a time when you were attacked and feel like you are in danger again. Getting stuck in traffic may remind you of being in a car accident and feeling helpless. These reminders can trigger an emotional response that feels out of proportion to the current situation.
Anything that causes you to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or scared can lead to an attack. These triggers can be anything and vary from person to person. It is important to be aware of your own triggers and try to avoid them if possible. If you cannot avoid them, it is important to have a plan in place for how to deal with them should they occur.
Common Internal Ptsd Triggers
- Physical discomfort, such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, sickness, and sexual frustration.
- Any bodily sensation that recalls the trauma, including pain, old wounds and scars, or a similar injury.
- Strong emotions, especially feeling helpless, out of control, or trapped.
- Feelings toward family members, including mixed feelings of love, vulnerability, and resentment.
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What Is A Ptsd Attack
Its not unusual to panic at times, but most people recover quickly and without help. But if you instantly have trouble breathing or your heart beats rapidly when reminded of something bad that happened, you may be experiencing something called a PTSD attack. Frequent occurrences could be signs of other trouble. Continue reading to learn more about PTSD attacks and treatment options.
When To See A Doctor
Many people experience symptoms after a traumatic event, such as crying, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating, but this is not necessarily PTSD.
Prompt treatment with a qualified professional can help prevent the symptoms from getting worse.
This should be considered if:
- symptoms persist for more than a month
- symptoms are severe enough to prevent the person returning to normal life
- the person considers harming themselves
psychotherapy and counseling, medication, or a combination.
Options for psychotherapy will be specially tailored for managing trauma.
Cognitive processing therapy : Also known as cognitive restructuring, the individual learns how to think about things in a new way. Mental imagery of the traumatic event may help them work through the trauma, to gain control of the fear and distress.
Exposure therapy: Talking repeatedly about the event or confronting the cause of the fear in a safe and controlled environment may help the person feel they have more control over their thoughts and feelings. The effectiveness of this treatment has been questioned, however, and it must be carried out with care, or there may be a risk of worsening of the symptoms.
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Tip : Anticipate And Manage Triggers
A trigger is anythinga person, place, thing, or situationthat reminds your loved one of the trauma and sets off a PTSD symptom, such as a flashback. Sometimes, triggers are obvious. For example, a military veteran might be triggered by seeing his combat buddies or by the loud noises that sound like gunfire. Others may take some time to identify and understand, such as hearing a song that was playing when the traumatic event happened, for example, so now that song or even others in the same musical genre are triggers. Similarly, triggers dont have to be external. Internal feelings and sensations can also trigger PTSD symptoms.
Tip : Be A Good Listener
While you shouldnt push a person with PTSD to talk, if they do choose to share, try to listen without expectations or judgments. Make it clear that youre interested and that you care, but dont worry about giving advice. Its the act of listening attentively that is helpful to your loved one, not what you say.
A person with PTSD may need to talk about the traumatic event over and over again. This is part of the healing process, so avoid the temptation to tell your loved one to stop rehashing the past and move on. Instead, offer to talk as many times as they need.
Some of the things your loved one tells you might be very hard to listen to. Its okay to dislike what you hear, but its important to respect their feelings and reactions. If you come across as disapproving, horrified, or judgmental, they are unlikely to open up to you again.
Symptoms Of Panic Disorder And Ptsd
Those with panic disorder will experience various physical symptoms that are associated with panic attacks. These include shaking, sweating, trembling, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. These feelings may become so severe that a person may believe they are either losing control, having a critical medical issue like a heart attack or that theyre going crazy. Individuals with panic disorders believe these attacks will happen again without warning, which makes them live in fear to the anticipation of their next attack.
PTSD symptoms are divided into three categories, which include increased arousal, re-experiencing the event, and avoidance behaviors. Re-experiencing these symptoms will consist of nightmares, flashbacks of the traumatic event, and intrusive thoughts. Avoidance behaviors involve staying away from anything that reminds them of the trauma this includes places, thoughts, or memories associated with what occurred. Hyperarousal symptoms consist of a lack of concentration, frequent irritability, and becoming easily startled.
Panic Disorders And Ptsd
PTSD, otherwise known as post-traumatic stress disorder, is a condition that may occur after someone has experienced a traumatic event involving the threat of bodily injury, intense fear, or death. Some examples may include sexual assault, natural disasters, or military combat.
An individual does not have to experience an event firsthand to experience the disorder. The person may witness something traumatic, such as an attack on someone that leads to accidental death, which can cause symptoms to appear. PTSD may also occur when someone hears details about someone elses exposure to trauma. It might include the tragic death of a family member or friend, or finding out someone close is diagnosed with a terminal condition.Those with PTSD commonly struggle with other co-occurring anxiety-related conditions, such as depression or substance abuse issues. Its not uncommon for someone with PTSD to also be diagnosed with a condition known as panic disorder. Each disorder contains its own set of diagnostic criteria, symptoms, and treatment options. There are many differences between PTSD and panic disorder that are determined by several factors.
Factors that separate panic disorder include:
- Shaking, trembling, and trouble breathing
- Avoidance of panic attack triggers
- Sudden or spontaneous panic attacks
- The potential to develop agoraphobia
Factors that separate PTSD include:
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Treatment For Panic Attacks
If youre a veteran suffering from panic attacks, or you think you may have panic disorder, its important to talk to a doctor about your symptoms. Together, you can determine the best treatment to help manage your condition.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy may help you with both your PTSD and panic attacks. With this type of therapy, you are taught techniques for relaxation that can help you better handle the physical symptoms that come with the attacks. You learn why you feel high stress from your thoughts and memories. Your doctor may take you through exposure exercises, during which you focus on the life-altering event until you can get past the anxious reaction you have to it. Additionally, psychotherapy, group therapy, and medication can help treat panic disorder.
What Can I Do To Help Myself
It is important to know that, although it may take some time, you can get better with treatment. Here are some things you can do to help yourself:
- Talk with your health care provider about treatment options, and follow your treatment plan.
- Engage in exercise, mindfulness, or other activities that help reduce stress.
- Try to maintain routines for meals, exercise, and sleep.
- Set realistic goals and do what you can as you are able.
- Spend time with trusted friends or relatives, and tell them about things that may trigger symptoms.
- Expect your symptoms to improve gradually, not immediately.
- Avoid use of alcohol or drugs.
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Tip : Deal With Volatility And Anger
PTSD can lead to difficulties managing emotions and impulses. In your loved one, this may manifest as extreme irritability, moodiness, or explosions of rage.
People suffering from PTSD live in a constant state of physical and emotional stress. Since they usually have trouble sleeping, it means theyre constantly exhausted, on edge, and physically strung outincreasing the likelihood that theyll overreact to day-to-day stressors.
For many people with PTSD, anger can also be a cover for other feelings such as grief, helplessness, or guilt. Anger makes them feel powerful, instead of weak and vulnerable. Others try to suppress their anger until it erupts when you least expect it.
Watch for signs that your loved one is angry, such as clenching jaw or fists, talking louder, or getting agitated. Take steps to defuse the situation as soon as you see the initial warning signs.
Try to remain calm. During an emotional outburst, try your best to stay calm. This will communicate to your loved one that you are safe, and prevent the situation from escalating.
Give the person space. Avoid crowding or grabbing the person. This can make a traumatized person feel threatened.
Ask how you can help. For example: What can I do to help you right now? You can also suggest a time out or change of scenery.
Tip : Rebuild Trust And Safety
Trauma alters the way a person sees the world, making it seem like a perpetually dangerous and frightening place. It also damages peoples ability to trust others and themselves. If theres any way you can rebuild your loved ones sense of security, it will contribute to their recovery.
Express your commitment to the relationship. Let your loved one know that youre here for the long haul so they feel loved and supported.
Create routines. Structure and predictable schedules can restore a sense of stability and security to people with PTSD, both adults and children. Creating routines could involve getting your loved one to help with groceries or housework, for example, maintaining regular times for meals, or simply being there for the person.
Minimize stress at home. Try to make sure your loved one has space and time for rest and relaxation.
Speak of the future and make plans. This can help counteract the common feeling among people with PTSD that their future is limited.
Keep your promises. Help rebuild trust by showing that youre trustworthy. Be consistent and follow through on what you say youre going to do.
Emphasize your loved ones strengths. Tell your loved one you believe theyre capable of recovery and point out all of their positive qualities and successes.
Long Terms Effects Of Ptsd
Since PTSD panic attack symptoms can be detrimental in day-to-day life, they can have unintended long-term consequences.
Most notably, due to avoidance of PTSD triggers, you may find yourself not living the life you desire to live. In other words, PTSD may prevent you from accomplishing goals you have, such as going to school, getting a job, or developing a relationship.
Furthermore, PTSD physical symptoms can produce negative long-term health consequences. For example, an increase in blood pressure and heart rate can lead to certain conditions, such as heart attacks, strokes, or aneurysms. ³
Due to these long-term consequences, its important to identify and treat the signs of PTSD attacks as soon as possible.