Name What Youre Feeling
When youre experiencing an anxious episode, you may not realize whats going on until youre really in the thick of it.
Recognizing anxiety for what it is may help you calm down quicker.
Name that this is anxiety not reality and that it will pass, says Kim Hertz, a psychotherapist at New York Therapy Practice. When you are in a heightened state of anxiety, you want to disrupt that cycle, and for some people, thought-stopping techniques are effective and as simple as saying stop to the internalized messaging that heightens anxiety.
In other words, consider recognizing that what youre feeling is anxiety and talking yourself through it.
Embrace absolute truths, says Steven Sultanoff, clinical psychologist and professor at Pepperdine University. I will get through this one way or another.
Naming your sensations and feelings may help you step away from them. This is anxiety, it is not you and it wont last forever.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are like other forms of mental illness. They dont come from personal weakness, character flaws or problems with upbringing. But researchers dont know exactly what causes anxiety disorders. They suspect a combination of factors plays a role:
- Chemical imbalance: Severe or long-lasting stress can change the chemical balance that controls your mood. Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period can lead to an anxiety disorder.
- Environmental factors: Experiencing a trauma might trigger an anxiety disorder, especially in someone who has inherited a higher risk to start.
- Heredity: Anxiety disorders tend to run in families. You may inherit them from one or both parents, like eye color.
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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.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Panic Disorder
People with panic disorder may have:
- Sudden and repeated panic attacks of overwhelming anxiety and fear
- A feeling of being out of control, or a fear of death or impending doom during a panic attack
- Physical symptoms during a panic attack, such as a pounding or racing heart, sweating, chills, trembling, breathing problems, weakness or dizziness, tingly or numb hands, chest pain, stomach pain, and nausea
- An intense worry about when the next panic attack will happen
- A fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is 70 To 90 Percent Effective As A Treatment For Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is one of the most treatable anxiety disorders. The prevailing treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy . A new offshoot of CBT, known as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy , has also been found effective in treating panic disorder. Psychologist Steven Hayes developed ACT in part as a way to treat his own panic disorder. This form of therapy uses acceptance and mindfulness techniques to change how you relate to your physical sensations of anxiety and anxiety itself.
CBT is an incredibly effective treatment for panic disorder. Seventy to ninety percent of people who undergo CBT will get better, says Gruner.
A key part of CBT in treating panic is a method called interoceptive exposure, in which the person deliberately confronts the unpleasant physical sensations that are causing anxiety. People become more sensitive to these sensations because they fear and avoid them, so facing the sensations and learning that they are not dangerous can lower anxiety sensitivity.
CBT sessions are usually conducted on a weekly basis and last for around 12 to 16 sessions. The treatment tends to show long-lasting results, and relapse is uncommon.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are also often used to treat depression and anxiety disorders, with or without CBT. These drugs can be effective, but CBT has been found to be a longer-lasting treatment than SSRIs.
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How To Handle A Panic Attack
Professor Paul Salkovskis, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science at the University of Bath, says its important not to let your fear of panic attacks control you.
Panic attacks always pass and the symptoms are not a sign of anything harmful happening, he says. Tell yourself that the symptoms youre experiencing are caused by anxiety.
He says dont look for distractions. Ride out the attack. Try to keep doing things. If possible, its important to try to remain in the situation until the anxiety has subsided.
Confront your fear. If you dont run away from it, youre giving yourself a chance to discover that nothings going to happen.
As the anxiety begins to pass, start to focus on your surroundings and continue to do what you were doing before.
If youre having a short, sudden panic attack, it can be helpful to have someone with you, reassuring you that it will pass and the symptoms are nothing to worry about, says Professor Salkovskis.
Seeking Professional Help For An Anxiety Or Panic Disorder
Seeking professional help can help you and your child gain knowledge about the tools and techniques used to prevent and manage anxiety attacks. A trained professional may have insight on why your child is having panic attacks, however there may not be a specific reason or trigger. Additionally, a trained professional can teach certain techniques such as exposure therapy and relaxation techniques to help your son or daughter overcome panic attacks. Although there are medications known to help panic disorders, they are not recommended for children due to the side effects, therefore these disorders are best managed with therapy and knowledge.
If your child has been experiencing frequent panic attacks likely related to an anxiety disorder, Discovery Mood and Anxiety Program is here to help. Please contact Discovery to get in touch with a supportive professional today.
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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.
Engage In Light Exercise
Research shows that regular exercise can not only keep the body healthy but boost mental well-being, too.
Experts have found that exercising at 60 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate for 20 minutes three times per week can help reduce anxiety.
If you are not used to exercising, talk with your doctor before starting. There is some evidence that starting aerobic exercise anew can trigger additional anxiety in people with an anxiety disorder. Building up gradually can help your body adjust and avoid breathing problems. Aerobic exercise includes activities such as running on a treadmill.
If you feel stressed or youre hyperventilating or struggling to breathe, stop and take a rest or choose a more moderate option, such as walking, swimming, or yoga.
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Panic Disorder Treatment Options
Panic attacks and panic disorders are treatable once the underlying cause is identified. Usually medical conditions and other factors are ruled out before making the diagnosis, says Flo Leighton, psychiatric nurse practitioner, and therapist with Union Square Practice in Manhattan. Getting to the root cause typically takes a couple of sessions, says Leighton. Here are some options that may be recommended to you :
Make Sure Youre Getting Adequate Sleep
How Can it Help?Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep to function optimally.
Too much more or less than that and you can be throwing your brain out of whack, causing all manner of negative effects on your mood and cognition. Lack or sleep, or too much sleep, can also be a culprit contributing to the kind of stress that leads to panic attacks and anxiety.
Since anxiety can cause sleep issues for some, creating a sort of vicious cycle, it may be worthwhile to look into taking supplements for anxiety that can aid with sleep. Well get into this a bit toward the end of the article.
My Personal Experience While I cant say Ive ever had any serious issue with sleep, I can vouch for the negative effects of getting insufficient or excessive sleep. In my personal experience, I tend to feel generally mopey and depressed if I get too much sleep, and just generally fatigued if I get too little. I havent been able to link my sleep to my anxiety in the past, but its not hard to imagine the stress of a sleep disorder contributing to anxiety and panic attacks.
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What Helps To Manage Panic Attacks
Panic attacks can be frightening, but there are things you can do to help yourself cope. It could help to print off these tips, or write them down, and keep them somewhere easy to find.
During a panic attack:
- Focus on your breathing. It can help to concentrate on breathing slowly in and out while counting to five.
- Stamp on the spot. Some people find this helps control their breathing.
- Focus on your senses. For example, taste mint-flavoured sweets or gum, or touch or cuddle something soft.
- Try grounding techniques. Grounding techniques can help you feel more in control. They’re especially useful if you experience dissociation during panic attacks. See our page on self-care for dissociation for more information on grounding techniques.
After a panic attack:
- Think about self-care. It’s important to pay attention to what your body needs after you’ve had a panic attack. For example, you might need to rest somewhere quietly, or eat or drink something.
- Tell someone you trust. If you feel able to, it could help to let someone know you’ve had a panic attack. It could be particularly helpful to mention how they might notice if you’re having another one, and how you’d like them to help you.
See our pages on self-care for anxiety and treatments for anxiety for more information on what could help.
What Is A Panic Attack
Panic attacks are a type of fear response. Theyre an exaggeration of your bodys normal response to danger, stress or excitement. This page covers:
My teeth would chatter uncontrollably and my whole body would tremble, Id hyperventilate and cry with panic as the feeling that I was going to fall unconscious was so convincing.
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Relax Your Body To Ease An Anxiety Attack
It’s easy to say, “Just relax,” right? But once you start to observe your body during an anxiety attack, you might find that certain parts of your body clench up during an attack. Make a deliberate effort to tighten and then relax those parts of your body.
Or, if those parts feel like they wont obey during an anxiety attack, pick a body part that will respond, such as your toes or your shoulders. The more you can breathe deeply and relax, the easier it will be to cope.
Talk To A Therapist With Experience In Anxiety Attacks
People often fear the worst when they’re having an anxiety attack. Most of the time, theres no underlying physical problem, such as a real heart attack. But you should get the medical all clear if you have repeat anxiety attacks, just to be sure you dont need additional treatment. Then find a cognitive behavioral therapist with experience treating anxiety to help you through.
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How Common Are Anxiety Disorders
The World Health Organisation estimates that 1 in 13 people have an anxiety disorder. This means that there are more than half a billion people living with a highly treatable mental illness.
What does this mean for you?
If you are experiencing prolonged anxiety, you are not alone. It is common for people with an anxiety disorder to feel isolated and misunderstood. The good news is that anxiety can be effectively managed with the right type of guidance from a health professional.
How To Prevent Panic Attacks 2 Important Tips
First things first: before we dive into how to prevent panic attacks through lifestyle changes, its important to understand a few basic facts about panic attacks and anxiety. I recommend reading our article on the root cause of anxiety if you havent already.
Now, I want to start this article off with two important tips. These are very important, so be sure you understand them well before moving on. Well get into some practical methods for anxiety and panic attack prevention immediately after.
Lets dive in.
Tip #1 – Panic Attacks are NOT Random!
Theres a very common misconception about panic attacks and anxiety attacks: many people incorrectly believe that panic attacks occur completely randomly.
Its understandable why people might think that panic attacks are random it can certainly feel that way sometimes. One minute youre sitting down reading a book and the next youre in full blown panic mode: seems pretty random, right?
But the reality is, there are often many invisible factors combining and contributing to our panic attacks and anxiety. Lack of exercise, irregular sleep, and poor diet are just a few possible culprits.
While theres no one-size-fits-all approach to completely preventing anxiety, research shows us time and time again that certain healthy lifestyle habits can significantly decrease the occurrence of these so-called random panic attacks and anxiety.
Tip #2 – You NEED to Put in the Work
Put in the work and stick with it!
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