Reach Out With Your Senses
Take in sensory information around you. Pay attention to what you see, smell, taste and feel. What is going on inside will start to get better when you look outward and realize there is no danger.
When you really sense what is going on in the here and now, you will realize that in most nows, there isnt much going on, Dr. Bea says.
Recognize When Your Friend Is In Trouble
Its important to remember that if your friend is experiencing an anxiety attack, they may not be willing or able to talk about it. Anxiety can take over someones brain in a funny way and make help-seeking behaviors difficult to engage in. As such, you should try to recognize when your friend is having anxiety issues. There are a variety of symptoms that can demonstrate when someone is having an anxiety attack, and these symptoms may manifest themselves in ways that are physical, emotional, or cognitive. Make sure to recognize these symptoms so you can tell when your friend is in pain.
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 .
Also Check: How To Deal With Separation Anxiety In Adults
What Is An Anxiety Attack
Anxiety attacks are a combination of physical and mental symptoms that are intense and overwhelming. The anxiety is more than just regular nervousness. The anxiety is often a feeling of immense, impending doom that makes many people feel they’re about to die, or that everything around them is breaking down.
It creates physical symptoms that are so severe they actually mimic legitimate, serious health problems.
Those that haven’t had an anxiety attack before often have no idea that what they’re experiencing is anxiety. That’s because the symptoms of anxiety attacks and panic attacks mimic extremely serious issues, such as:
- Heart attacks and heart failure.
- Brain tumors.
Yet despite how intense these things can feel, anxiety attacks are not even remotely dangerous.
Where To Get Help
Overcoming anxiety and dealing with panic attacks is easier if you seek help. Talk to your doctor, , or see below for online programs and tools that can help.
- ReachOut.com’s ReachOut Worry Time App can help to control everyday worries and anxieties.
- Black Dog Institutes’ myCompass provides a personalised online self-help program.
- MindSpot’s Mood Mechanic Course helps young adults aged 18 to 25 and Indigenous Wellbeing Course is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 18 years and over.
- This Way Up’s online courses teach individuals core skills to tackle symptoms of panic and generalized anxiety disorder.
Read Also: Can Anxiety Cause You To Throw Up
How People Get Tricked
People’s natural instincts to protect themselves are what lead them to get tricked. See if you recognize your responses in these examples below.
A person with Panic Disorder gets tricked into holding her breath and fleeing the store , rather than shifting to Belly Breathing. and staying there until the feelings pass.
A person with Generalized Anxiety Disorder gets tricked into trying to stop the unwanted “what if?” thoughts, rather than accepting them and taking care of present business as thoughts come and go.
A person with Social Phobia gets tricked into avoiding the party, or hiding in the corner if he attends, rather than say hello to a stranger and see what happens.
A person with OCD gets tricked into repeatedly washing his hands, or returning home to check the stove, rather than accepting the intrusive thoughts of contamination and fire and returning his energies to the present activities at hand.
A person with a dog phobia gets tricked into avoiding the feelings by avoiding all dogs, rather than spending time with a dog until the feelings pass.
Common Characteristics Of A Panic Attack
What, exactly, is a panic attack? A panic attack refers to a sudden episode of intense fear, panic or anxiety that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no imminent danger. Its disproportionate fear. Effectively, a panic attack fills you with the feeling of imminent doom when theres actually no immediate threat. Think of it as a false alarma misfiring of your fight-or-flight instinct, as it were.
In addition to an intense feeling of anxiety, a panic attack usually triggers a variety of physical symptoms, as well. These may include any or all of the following:
- Shortness of breath/hyperventilation
- Sensations of numbness or tingling in parts of the body
- Fear of dying
The scariest part of having a panic attack may be the physical symptoms themselvesmany people describe feeling like they are having a heart attack when it is instead a panic attack. The primary differences between a heart attack and a panic attack are that a panic attack is usually triggered by a wave of fear and panic attacks are usually brief, usually descelarating afting 10 minutes or so. Regardless, panic attacks can be highly disconcerting and uncomfortable, however brief.
Recommended Reading: Can The Er Prescribe Anxiety Medication
Stop An Anxiety Attack With Belly Breathing
Feeling short of breath is a hallmark symptom of an anxiety attack. But you can make the feeling worse by taking short, shallow breaths. Try belly breathing instead to stop the anxiety attack.
Carbonell compares the type of breathing youll need with the breathing of infants, whose bellies rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. When an anxiety attack starts, exhale deeply, loosen your shoulders, and focus on some longer, deeper inhales and exhales that let your belly rise and fall. Place one hand on your belly if you need to feel this happening.
What Not To Say
Just as there are many things you can do and say to help someone calm down from a panic or anxiety attack, there are also things you should never say. One important thing to keep in mind is you should not say anything invalidating. The individual having the attack is already aware that they are not reacting rationally, and there is a good chance they are berating themselves for not having a rational response.
Telling them their fear is irrational will not help, because it does not stop the fear. You also should not tell them things are not that bad. They already know that, and being reminded can increase feelings of guilt and shame. Please do not be harsh or demanding, do not tell them to pull themselves together, and do not touch them without their consent. It would be best if you did not laugh at or belittle them either. Even if the panic attack seems incomprehensible to you, it feels very real to them, and you should be respectful of that.
You May Like: Faratrophobia
Recommended Reading: Can Anxiety Cause Urinary Retention
Change Your Physical Body
A bad anxiety attack is a paralyzing feedback loop between the brain and the body’s “fight or flight” response that’s flashing “DANGER!” DANGER!””DANGER!” There’s no real danger, so switch off that response by:
- Dunking your face into ice cold water. This is my go-to technique when things are really bad. I fill up the kitchen sink with ice, add water, then dunk my whole head in and hold it there for 20 to 30 seconds. It sounds extreme, but it’s amazing how well this works!
- Listening to very, VERY loud music. You can interrupt your brain’s danger response via the auditory nerve. Put on your favorite music and turn it up, as loud as you can! I mean until the house shakes! 3 minutes of ear-splitting noise breaks anxiety paralysis incredibly well.
- Drinking something really nasty-tasting. You can probably tell this strategy shocks your nervous system via your physical senses. Sometimes a really horrible taste will break an anxiety attack for me when nothing else is working. Things I’ve tried include a cup of straight vinegar, a big gulp of lemon juice or a shot of very cheap vodka. Note: I do NOT advocate drinking as a solution to anxiety!
How Is Anxiety Treated
Treatment for anxiety typically consists of a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective form of psychotherapy for generalized anxiety disorder. CBT teaches specific skills to manage your worries and help you gradually return to the activities you have avoided because of anxiety.
Don’t Miss: What Can I Do To Help My Partner With Anxiety
Anxious Three Ways To Get Out Of Panic Mode
When you feel overwhelmed with panic, try these mini-mindfulness practices to help calm anxiety.
Anxiety disorders adversely affect the lives of about 40 million Americans. They are plagued by insecurity, dread, persistent stress, and irrational fears. Noted essayist and author Barbara Graham reveals her personal story of a lifelong struggle with high anxiety, and details her expansive search for relief and peace of mind.
Its midnight and Im convinced Ill be dead of a brain tumor by first light.
How I even know about brain tumors is a mystery. Im six years old and no one in my small world has ever had one. Still, Im panicking, gulping at the air, trembling beneath the covers. My mother tries to hold me and talk me down, but Im too far gone to be comforted. Finally, near tears herself, she phones an old family friend who happens to be a world-famous neurosurgeon. Fifteen minutes later he shows up at our house and puts me through the paces of basic neurology testsclose your eyes and touch the tip of your forefinger to the tip of your nose, walk heel to toe in a straight line across the roomthen he promises me I dont have a brain tumor. I believe himfor now.
In a sense, fear and anxiety have been my greatest teachers, moment by moment prompting me to come to grips with living in a body, living in the world.
Embrace Opportunities To Practice
When we are struggling there is often an oh no quality to the flow of events. Not now, not again, this is too much, why me, or when will this end. Its as if some moments belong and others dont, and we are winning when we get the good ones, and we are losing when we get the bad ones.
In actuality, however, all moments belong. All moments are opportunities for growth, especially hard ones. When else can we work on dealing with difficult thoughts and feelings?
We can practice the skill of dealing with anxiety through meditation, therapy, or workbooks. But ultimately, the best place to practice these skills is in the context of anxiety itself.
We can practice in the context of a small anxiety storm, such as when were stuck in traffic. We might then notice judgments of others, a childish pull to throw a tantrum, rising emotions, and physiological reactions. And while we notice this inner struggle, we also notice that theres more going on in the present moment.
We hear the sound of the song on the radio, and we notice the children in the car next to us. And we recall that we are going somewhere and that being stuck in traffic is part of this bigger journey.
As those smaller moments are mastered, we can even practice in the context of a large anxiety storm – perhaps when experiencing waves of anxiety right before standing to speak in front of a group. This, again, is an opportunity to notice what comes up.
Also Check: How Can I Fall Asleep With Anxiety
How You Get Tricked
* If you have Panic Disorder or Agoraphobia, you keep getting tricked into believing that you’re about to die, go crazy, or lose control of yourself.
* If you have Social Phobia,you keep getting tricked into into believing that you’re about to look so unreasonably nervous in front of people that you will be completely humiliated and be cast aside by your community.
* If you have a Specific Phobia, you keep getting tricked into believing that you’re likely to be overcome by some external object or animal, or by your fear of it.
* If you have OCD, you keep getting tricked into believing that you’ve set in motion a terrible calamity. You might fear that your neighborhood will burn because you left the stove on, or that your family will get poisoned because you mishandled the insecticide.
* If you have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, you keep getting tricked into believing that you’re about to be driven mad by constant worrying.
In each case, the episode of fear passes without the expected catastrophe. You’re none the worse for wear, except that you’re more worried about the next episode. The details seem different, but it’s the same anxiety trick.
What Causes Anxiety Attacks
- Caregivers do not know for sure what causes anxiety attacks. Sometimes they are caused by being in a situation that you find upsetting. You may have them due to a stressful life event, such as getting divorced. You are more likely to have anxiety attacks if you also have another mental health problem. Other mental health problems include depression , or alcoholism . Anxiety attacks may happen for no reason. Anxiety attacks can happen to anyone, regardless of age or gender.
- Some health conditions or medicines may cause anxiety attack symptoms. Using or withdrawing from alcohol or illegal drugs may also cause symptoms. Some people have anxiety attacks that are triggered by the fear of having a future anxiety attack. You are more likely to have anxiety attacks if someone in your family also has them.
Don’t Miss: What Does Anxiety Feel Like Physically
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 :