How Is Panic Disorder Treated
If youre experiencing symptoms of panic disorder, talk to a health care provider. After discussing your history, a health care provider may conduct a physical exam to ensure that an unrelated physical problem is not causing your symptoms. A health care provider may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker. The first step to effective treatment is to get a diagnosis, usually from a mental health professional.
Panic disorder is generally treated with psychotherapy , medication, or both. Speak with a health care provider about the best treatment for you.
Ask If They Need Help
For someone with anxiety, the most important thing you can do is ask if you can help them. Some people prefer to be left alone, processing the anxiety by themselves. Others rely on and need the support of others. The best thing that you can do is learn how you can help your friend. Ask them what sort of support they need and how you can be of assistance to them. Find out their style of coping, and learn how you can be of assistance.
Introduction To Anxiety Attacks/panic Attacks
Anxiety attacks are not a psychological term, so their definition can vary a bit depending on the speaker. But anxiety attacks are often used either synonymously with the term “panic attacks” .
Panic attacks are short term moments of anxiety so severe, it can feel like you are about to die. During an anxiety attack, you’ll often experience a host of physical and mental symptoms that can leave you severely frightened and incredibly drained once they pass. These include:
It’s not uncommon to experience other unusual symptoms during an anxiety attack that all contribute to further fear. Anxiety attacks tend to peak around 10 minutes in and then slowly fade over the course of a few hours, often leaving the individual drained and anxious, and in some cases wondering what went wrong.
These panic attacks are rarely just feelings of nervousness or worry. They are very physical and mental events. Those that have never had a panic attack before dont always realize that they had an anxiety attack. Some people have first-time anxiety attacks so severe that they call the hospital because they think something is going horribly wrong.
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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.
What Is An Anxiety Disorder
An anxiety disorder is defined as anxiety that grows worse over time and is more than just the occasional challenge or normal reaction to everyday circumstances. It is anxiety or fear of anxiety that interferes with everyday life, causes needless pain, and ultimately sucks the enjoyment out of living. Anxiety disorders do more than just annoy they also make it harder to work, enjoy our relationships with loved ones, or function in society.
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How Do I Survive One
If you feel that anxiety building, or if its already DEFCON 1, consider trying the three Bs to get you through the crisis:
Find a way to feel grounded. Thats psychology speak for get out of your head. Be here now. Feel your feet on the ground. Dont just visualize or think about your feet on the ground, really feel them. Attend to the micro-sensations of each toe, each inch of foot skin, that is touching the ground. Notice the gravity, the heaviness. Now you have your anchor.
You could also hold one hand with the other. Note the soft, warm sensations of touching and being touched on each hand. Use physical touch to bring you out of your head and back into your body, and to remind yourself, Im here. Im safe. Im in my room. This is just anxiety. I know it feels like something terrible is happening, but its notthose are just your thoughts about the past or about what might happen in the future.
Find a way to engage your brain so that it cant think dark thoughts while youre trying to calm your body down. Count backward from 100 by 2s, recite the alphabet backward, start with 50 and add 2, minus 1, over and over. Something that is neutral but requires mental effort.
This is the big one. This may be easier now that youve distracted your mind with busywork and reminded yourself that youre in your body, right here, right now, and not falling into the existential abyss.
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.
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Try Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Another symptom of panic attacks is muscle tension. Practicing muscle relaxation techniques may help limit an attack. This is because if the mind senses that the body is relaxing, other symptoms such as rapid breathing may also diminish.
A technique called progressive muscle relaxation is a popular method for coping with anxiety and panic attacks.
This involves tensing up and then relaxing various muscles in turn. To do this:
How To Handle A Panic Attack
Professor Paul Salkovskis, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science at the University of Bath, says it’s 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 you’re experiencing are caused by anxiety.”
He says don’t look for distractions. “Ride out the attack. Try to keep doing things. If possible, it’s important to try to remain in the situation until the anxiety has subsided.”
“Confront your fear. If you don’t run away from it, you’re giving yourself a chance to discover that nothing’s 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.
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Anxiety And Anger Have More In Common Than You Think
Its useful to learn the basic processes first about what anxiety is, and how to effectively address it. However, once the anxiety sets in, focusing on the right thoughts and actions will not help you. In fact, entertaining these thoughts will keep you stuck in your own head and further pull you into your anxiety.
Dealing with anxiety is not a matter of following a specific set of rules. The rules can at best bring you to the edge. Instead, effectively dealing with anxiety requires you to let go of these rules and allow yourself to have imperfect thoughts and actions, so you can put your attention where it matters.
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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What To Do When You Have An Anxiety Attack
Anxiety attacks often need to run their course. Once they’ve started, there is very little that you can do to stop them completely. They’re a reaction that your body has that is somewhat beyond your control. They can be prevented, and their severity can be lessened, but they are very hard to stop.
Reducing its severity has to do with reacting correctly to the symptoms. Remember – the physical symptoms you experience are very real, and very disruptive. But they’re not related to any health problem, and solely a result of your anxiety. If you believe you feel an anxiety attack coming or you’re certain you’re in the middle of the one, try the following:
Drinking water may also calm the mind, and if you feel strong enough, a good jog can get your body to breathe better and use oxygen at a healthier pace.
I Knew Something Terribly Wrong Was Happening
J.T. Lewis, 58, Charlottesville, Va.
Courtesy J.T. Lewis
One morning almost 20 years ago, J.T. Lewis hailed a cab because she was late to work. As she settled into the back seat, Lewis noticed the car seemed unusually hot, dirty and cramped. The driver’s seat was so far back it seemed to be crushing her. She felt sweaty and light-headed.
“Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe, Lewis recalls. There was this crushing chest pain. I knew something was terribly wrong. Was I dying?”
The attack subsided after a few minutes, but Lewis was so shaken she had the driver drop her at her physician’s office. After a battery of tests, the doctor told her there was nothing physically wrong with her.
A few weeks later, Lewis, who frequently traveled for her job as a lawyer, had just buckled into first class on a plane when it happened again. The pressure in her chest. The feeling that she couldn’t breathe. Sweaty and pallid, she asked the flight attendant for some water.
The flight attendant took one look at her and instead had the pilot return the plane to the gate, so Lewis could get off. I was frustrated, confused and humiliated, Lewis said. I began avoiding business travel.”
After that, the panic attacks started happening more often. In the short run, medicine quelled her symptoms: Her doctor prescribed daily beta blockers plus Xanax for the moments when she felt an attack coming on .
Now retired from law practice, she hasn’t had a full-blown panic attack in years.
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Do A Daily Or Routine Meditation
While this takes some practice to do successfully, mindful meditation, when done regularly, can eventually help you train your brain to dismiss anxious thoughts when they arise.
If sitting still and concentrating is difficult, try starting with yoga, or walking meditation. There are many free guided meditations on apps like InsightTimer that can help you get started.
Treatment Options For Patients With Anxiety
There are two primary treatments for individuals with anxiety:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy , which involves learning how to lower anxiety and face distressing situations.
- Medication management with antidepressants, which works well on its own but even better when coupled with CBT.
During therapy, continue to show your support by:
- Asking your loved one what you can do to help them.
- Asking if you can attend a therapy session to learn some skills to better support them.
- Making time for your own life and interests to sustain your energy.
- Encouraging your loved one to try another therapist if the first one isnt a good fit.
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Signs Of An Anxiety Attack
These are some of the more common mental and physical symptoms of anxiety:
- feelings of danger, panic, or dread
- nervousness or restlessness
- numbness or tingling in your extremities
- feeling hot or cold
If you notice that quick tips havent been working, you may want to consider seeing a professional for help. Especially if you believe you have GAD and its interfering with routine activities and causing physical symptoms.
A mental health professional can help with streamlining the process of identifying your triggers, maintaining long-term strategies through behavioral therapy, medications, and more.
Anxiety may always be a part of your life, but it shouldnt overtake your day-to-day. Even the most extreme anxiety disorders can be treated so that the symptoms arent overwhelming.
Once you find what treatment works best for you, life should be a lot more enjoyable and a lot less daunting.
Plan What To Do The Next Time Panic Strikes
If youre reading this article, chances are youve had an anxiety attack or saw one happen to someone you care about.
That can be a cue to think about remedies. Then, if it happens again, you will be prepared.
Psychologists speak of panic attacks rather than anxiety attacks. Anxiety is ongoing. A panic attack is when your fear is acute and for a short period, you cant function normally. During a panic attack, your heart is racing, or you might feel weak, faint, or dizzy. Your hands and fingers may tingle or feel numb. Youre sweating or getting chilled. Your stomach churns or aches. You may have chest pains or pant. You feel dread or are overwhelmed.
If you have panic disorder, the panic attacks come repeatedly and may be unpredictable. Nearly 5 percent of American adults and more than 2 percent of teens experience panic disorder at some point. The trouble runs in families and may be involved with another anxiety problem. For example, someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder may have a panic attack if they cant engage in a ritual like checking the door handle repeatedly to see that the door is closed. If youre afraid of heights, you might have a panic attack on a mountaintop.
How to stop an anxiety attack: Try these techniques in advance and when you feel panic coming on, choose one to do in the moment. You might do two or more in a sequence.
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They Are Not Triggered By A Specific Event Or Situation
Anxiety attacks are intense feelings of fear and nervousness that are often not triggered by a specific event or scenario. They can last for minutes, hours, or even weeks. They can be the result of a heightened sense of anxiety, or they can be the result of a mental health disorder.
Panic attacks are a more severe form of anxiety. They are sudden and start nowhere. These episodes are accompanied by a high heart rate and chest pain and can send sufferers to the emergency room.
Types Of Anxiety Disorder
There are several different classified anxiety disorders. Each disorder has different symptoms that certain situations may trigger.
Anxiety disorders include :
- Panic disorder : This involves frequent panic attacks accompanied by the constant fear of future attacks. People with panic disorder may lose a job, refuse to travel or leave their home, or completely avoid anything they believe will trigger an attack.
- GAD: This is a constant state of worry or persistent feeling of dread, which may last months or years.
- Social anxiety disorder: People will have an intense and persistent fear that others are watching and judging them.
- Phobic disorder: This features intense anxiety and irrational fear of an object or situation, for example, a fear of spiders or open spaces. People with phobic disorder may be aware that their fear is irrational.
As well as the physical symptoms of anxiety, people may experience the following:
- feeling tense or nervous
- seeking lots of reassurance from others
- low mood or depression
- rumination, which is when a person thinks about a situation or thought repeatedly
- worry about what will happen in the future
- worrying about anxiety, such as when a panic attack might occur
Not every case of anxiety will include all these symptoms. Anxiety can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the trigger and how the person reacts to it.
Anxiety that continues for a long time or has a specific trigger
- the use of some medications
- a recent or past traumatic experience
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How Can You Help Someone Who Is Suffering From An Anxiety Disorder
Watching a friend experience an anxiety disorder is a terrifying experience, as you will likely feel completely paralyzed in terms of your ability to help them. There is little worse than watching a friend experience anxiety and not being sure what to do. Thankfully, there are things that you can do.