Use Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Muscle tension is a symptom of anxiety, and muscle relaxation techniques can help reduce tension and promote relaxation during an attack. Progressive muscle relaxation aims to release tension in one group of muscles at a time to relax the whole body.
Much like deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques can help stop your panic attack in its tracks by controlling your bodys response as much as possible.
If you attend muscle relaxation therapy, your therapist might take you through the following
- First, you may learn how to tense the muscles before releasing the tension.
- Then, you will learn how to relax the muscles without tensing them first.
- You may also learn how to relax specific sets of muscles, for example, in the shoulders, for practical use in everyday situations.
- Finally, you may learn how to practice rapid relaxation, when you can identify any areas of tension and release it as needed.
To start relaxing your muscles at home, consciously relax one muscle at a time, starting with something simple like the fingers in your hand, and move your way up through your body.
Muscle relaxation techniques will be most effective when youve practiced them beforehand.
Causes Of Anxiety Fear And Panic
There are many different causes of anxiety, fear or panic and it’s different for everyone.
When you’re feeling anxious or scared, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
This can be helpful in some situations, but it might also cause physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate and increased sweating. In some people, it might cause a panic attack.
Regular anxiety, fear or panic can also be the main symptom of several health conditions. Do not self-diagnose speak to a GP if you’re worried about how you’re feeling.
How Many Panic Attacks Are Needed For A Panic Attack Disorder Diagnosis
According to the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition , a person must have one or more attacks followed by at least a month of fearing another panic attack. So technically, at least two panic attacks are needed for the panic disorder diagnosis, but typically people with panic disorder report experiencing many more, says Simon A. Rego, PsyD, chief psychologist at Montefiore Health System in New York City.
Every year, nearly 11% of Americans experience a panic attack, and between 2% and 3% of them go on to develop panic disorder.
Don’t Miss: What Is The Meaning Of Phobia
How Do You Know If You Are Having A Panic Attack
The signs of a panic attack include:
- Immediate panic and fear.
- Difficulty breathing.
Brick explains that panic attacks are sudden and they can be distressing, especially if you have never had one before.
“This then leads to a catastrophic thought which misinterprets these changes in bodily symptoms to mean immediate danger. Some people may experience thoughts such as ‘I’m having a heart attack’ or ‘Im going to die.’ This in turn keeps the panic going.”
She says your misinterpretation of those bodily sensations creates a vicious cycle by further fuelling panic symptoms, which perpetuates your fear and catastrophic thinking.
What to do if you have a panic attack in public
What To Do When Someone Else Is Having A Panic Attack
This section will provide some tips on how to help a person having a panic attack.
First, try talking them through a few of the methods above. For instance, help them find a peaceful spot, encourage them to take slow, deep breaths, and ask them to focus on a nearby object.
If you do not know the person, introduce yourself and ask them if they need help. Ask them if they have had a panic attack before, and if so, what helps them regain control.
People can also try the following tips when someone else is having a panic attack:
- Try to remain calm. This will help them relax a little more.
- Suggest moving to a quiet spot nearby and help them find one. Sitting down in a comfortable place can be very effective, as it allows them to focus on their breathing.
- Remind the person that panic attacks always end.
- Stay positive and nonjudgmental. Avoid validating any negative statements.
- Try having a gentle, friendly conversation to distract them and help them feel safe.
- Avoid telling them to calm down or telling them that there is nothing to worry about, as this devalues their emotions.
- Stay with them. If they feel that they need to be alone, make sure they remain visible.
Don’t Miss: Whats The Fear Of Throwing Up
Panic Attack Signs And Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of a panic attack develop abruptly and usually reach their peak within 10 minutes. They rarely last more than an hour, with most ending within 20 to 30 minutes. Panic attacks can happen anywhere and at any time. You may have one while youre in a store shopping, walking down the street, driving in your car, or even sitting on the couch at home.
Panic attack symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
- Heart palpitations or racing heart
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings
- Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Fear of dying, losing control, or going crazy
Is it a heart attack or a panic attack?
Most of the symptoms of a panic attack are physical, and many times these symptoms are so severe that you may think youre having a heart attack. In fact, many people suffering from panic attacks make repeated trips to the doctor or the emergency room in an attempt to get treatment for what they believe is a life-threatening medical problem. While its important to rule out possible medical causes of symptoms such as chest pain, elevated heart rate, or difficulty breathing, its often panic that is overlooked as a potential causenot the other way around.
Is It Panic Disorder
If you feel constantly stressed and anxious, particularly about when your next panic attack may be, you may have panic disorder.
People with panic disorder may avoid situations that might cause a panic attack. They may also fear and avoid public spaces .
“There’s no quick fix, but if your attacks are happening time after time, seek medical help,” says Professor Salkovskis.
Read more about panic attacks, including personal stories, at See Me Scotland.
Also Check: Pristiq Ocd
Who Is This Panic Disorder Quiz For
Below is a list of questions that relate to life experiences common among people diagnosed with panic disordera type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurring unexpected panic attacks. Please read each question carefully and indicate whether you have experienced these thoughts or symptoms in the past year. Keep in mind that the effects of certain drugs or medications, as well as certain medical conditions, can cause panic attacks, so you should discuss your symptoms with a doctor.
Note that panic disorder refers to recurrent, unexpected panic attacksthat is, the attack appears to happen out of the blue when there is no actual danger. In contrast, expected panic attacks occur when there is an obvious cue or trigger, such as a specific phobia . While panic attacks are very uncomfortable, they can be treated. Experts say that it is important to find out whether you have panic disorder so that you can receive the right treatment.
Try To Find Evidence For Your Fear
When trying to stop a panic attack, you need to get to the root cause of it: your fear. Many times are fears are exaggerated in our mind. Our imagination can play some terrifying tricks on us. A simple way to stop panic attacks is to first label what the situation or trigger is. For example, an upcoming wedding. Then, list your feelings such as anxious, paranoid, scared, etc. Next, name the unhelpful thoughts that youre having. For example, feeling like youre in danger, feeling like youre about to die. Then, list the facts that support your unhelpful thought.
Keep in mind they need to be facts not beliefs. You might have some weird coincidences that you can list but that wont be considered actual evidence. Then, list facts that provide evidence against the unhelpful thought. For example, maybe youre still young and healthy so you likely arent about to die. Next, provide an alternative and more realistic. Next, focus on reevaluate you how currently feel. This is the Thought Record you can fill out to help you.
You May Like: What Does A Phobia Mean
Is Anxiety Bad For You
A little anxiety is fine, but long-term anxiety may cause more serious health problems, such as high blood pressure . You may also be more likely to develop infections. If youre feeling anxious all the time, or its affecting your day-to-day life, you may have an anxiety disorder or a panic disorder.
Use Essential Oils To Snap Your System Out Of The Attack
Personally, I rely on essential oils and happily so. They arent like prescription drugs, where you become addicted and dependent. Essential oils are 100% natural and you can use them to snap your mind, body, and soul out of an attack. I always have some sort of anti-anxiety essential oil on me, whether its a roller or a drop on my wrist, essential oil jewelry, etc.
The scent of natural extracts trigger certain toxins in your brain that help you calm down and come out of a panic attack. However, its important to find out which ones do what. So, do educate yourself on the types of essential oils for anxiety and what each does.
You May Like: Bipolar And Bpd Comorbid
Getting Treatment For Panic Attacks
We understand that panic attacks are incredibly distressing, but it is important to understand that there is treatment that can help them to be reduced or resolved.
Our specialists at Priory are highly experienced in treating people with panic and anxiety. They are able to use treatments such as the following:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy CBT works by addressing any dysfunctional thought patterns that may be contributing to panic attacks. It can help a person to re-evaluate these thoughts in a healthier way
- Medication – certain antidepressant medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , or other medications, can be used alongside CBT to further support in the management of panic attacks
Through therapy at Priory, a person can tackle the underlying causes of their panic attacks, identify triggers and learn effective strategies that they can use to minimise panic attacks and manage them if and when they occur.
Focus On Your Breathing
Concentrate on your breathing. Dont hold your breath, but breathe in slowly through your nose as you count to 5. Then breathe slowly out your mouth as you count to 5.
Keep focusing on your breathing for as long as you need to. If breathing and counting doesnt work for you, there are lots of other breathing techniques you can try.
Focus on whats around you. Remind yourself that youre having a panic attack and that it cant hurt you.
Try holding onto something or tasting chewing gum to help keep you grounded. Try naming:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch or feel
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste.
It can be tempting to try and leave or avoid the situation, but try not to. Stay where you are and keep focusing on things here and now until you feel calmer.
Focus on reminding yourself that:
- it will pass
- anxiety cant harm me
- I am in control.
Having a panic attack can leave you feeling tired or drained. Give yourself time afterwards to sit somewhere quietly, or to have something to eat or drink.
Talk about it
Talking can really help. Telling someone you trust can give you a chance to explain whats happened and let your feelings out.
Write things down
stuff that helpsme
Recommended Reading: Define:phobia
What Does It Look Like When Someone Has A Panic Attack
The person may feel a sense of impending doom as if something bad will happen. They may also have a racing heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, or feelings of unreality. Many people feel like they are going crazy or are dying.
Essentially, a panic attack is an experience of extreme dread or fear that lasts for more than a few seconds. Many different factors, especially mental health issues, can trigger the panic disorder.
There are numerous types of panic attacks, including long-term issues such as past traumas, post-traumatic stress disorder, biological issues, and temporary/situational issues such as a sudden loss or accident.
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.
Recommended Reading: Fear Of Bees And Wasps Phobia
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!
Focus On Taking Action
A soothing voice might help some people, but try to avoid saying things like Dont worry over and over. You might mean well, but your words may not help in the moment. Try these suggestions:
- Remind your friend to take slow, deep breaths and breathe with them. This can often help as they start to mirror your actions.
- Ask them to count backwards slowly from 100.
- Help them to get comfortable .
- Ask them to name five things they can see, hear, smell or feel.
- Reassure them that theyre experiencing panic and that it will go away.
- If the symptoms continue, become worse, or they dont improve after 2030 minutes, call 000.
Recommended Reading: Prodromal Psychotic Symptoms
Calming Step : Have A Script Ready
A panic attack can fill your head with racing, negative thoughts, which can keep the panic going and make you feel worse. But you can wield a powerful weapon against them: A script of positive thoughts.
Write down encouraging words you can read to yourself during a panic attack, Dr. Josell says. Your script should answer the negative thoughts. So if you feel like youre going to pass out, tell yourself you wont. If you feel like youre dying, tell yourself you wont die from a panic attack. The words you hear are powerful, and over time, they become your truth.
Ideally, write your script when youre feeling calm. Tuck it in your pocket or purse or type it into your smartphone notes so its easy to access.
If youre in the middle of a panic attack and dont have your script, you can fight negative thoughts on the fly. Try repeating in your mind or out loud phrases like, Im strong, and I can handle this, or This is only temporary, and it will pass.
Your script helps you deal with an attack that arises, but its a preventive measure, too. It can calm your fear of having another panic attack because you know youre in control. The more confident you are that you can manage a panic attack, the less likely you are to have future attacks.
Its Just One Of Many Options
While CBT can be helpful for many people, it doesnt work for everyone. If you dont see any results after a few sessions, dont feel discouraged. Check in with your therapist.
A good therapist can help you recognize when one approach isnt working. They can usually recommend other approaches that might help more.
How to find a therapist
Finding a therapist can feel daunting, but it doesnt have to be. Start by asking yourself a few basic questions:
- What issues do you want to address? These can be specific or vague.
- Are there any specific traits youd like in a therapist? For example, are you more comfortable with someone who shares your gender?
- How much can you realistically afford to spend per session? Do you want someone who offers sliding-scale prices or payment plans?
- Where will therapy fit into your schedule? Do you need a therapist who can see you on a specific day of the week? Or someone who has sessions at night?
- Next, start making a list of therapists in your area. If you live in the United States, head over to the American Psychological Associations therapist locator.
Also Check: Fear Of Long Words Name
When To See A Doctor
Given the complexity of psychosis, its not advised to self-diagnose and treat it on your own. You can, however, make note of your symptoms to determine when its time to seek help from a psychiatrist or other mental health professional.
If you suspect symptoms of psychosis, and if these are severe enough to interfere with your daily life, consider seeking professional advice. Your primary care doctor is a starting point for recommendations.
You can also search for mental health providers via your insurance company, or find a therapist in your area here.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance misuse, you may also consider finding help through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration .