Strategy #: Remember Its Just Anxiety
Panic is all in the interpretation. Think of it this way: Its 3 a.m. and the phone rings. What happened? Well, it could mean your sister is dead, your brother needs to be bailed out, or your teenager is in the emergency room. But it could also mean a wrong number, a prank call, or someone who got their time zones seriously mixed up. Until you pick up the phone, the reason for the call is a product of your interpretation.
Teach Your Child To Get Help
As a panic attack can be sudden and happen at anyplace and anytime, it is important to teach your child to get help. Let your childs teachers and caregivers know about their condition so that your child can go to them for help. If there are no familiar adults around, teach your child how to talk to someone who is nearby and explain what is happening when they feel that they are going to have a panic attack. Assure your child that there will always be someone who will help them.
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.
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Help Your Child To Shift Focus Make A List Of What Helps
When a panic attack occurs, it is likely that all sorts of negative thoughts are going through the childs mind. Shifting their focus or distracting them might help to soothe and comfort them. It can be anything from watching their favourite tv show, hugging a pet or playing with their favourite toy.
Sit down with your child and make a list of items that can effectively distract them. This can include places in which they feel calm and relaxed. Having a go to list will better prepare you for when the panic attack happens. Additionally, you can also teach your child to immediately focus on a happy place when they feel anxiety coming on.
When Should I Call The Doctor
Some panic attacks have signs that can be confused with a physical problem like a heart attack. If you have chest pain or trouble breathing or lose consciousness, seek emergency medical care.
You should call your healthcare provider if you have panic attacks and experience:
- Chronic anxiety that interferes with daily life.
- Difficulty concentrating.
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When Someone Is Having A Panic Attack
Below are some tips for you or your loved one to consider during a panic attack:
- Anxiety cannot increase forever and you cannot experience peak levels of anxiety forever. Physiologically there is a point at which our anxiety cannot become any higher and our bodies will not maintain that peak level of anxiety indefinitely. At that point, there is nowhere for anxiety to go but down. It is uncomfortable to reach that peak but it is important to remember this anxiety will even out and then go down with time.
- Emotions are like a wave, they will come and they will go.
- You have experienced this before, you know what to expect, and you will be able to handle it.
- Avoidance is anxiety’s best friend. Avoidance now will mean sustained anxiety in the future.
The following websites and brochures provide useful information for helping and supporting loved ones with panic disorder:
Panic Attacks Quiz: Do I Have Panic Disorder
In order to manage threatening situations, humans have evolved to experience a “fight or flight” response. As part of this response, when humans are confronted with a dangerous situation, their body mobilizes by sending blood away from their extremities and into the major muscles, producing adrenaline, and increasing heart rate so that we are better equipped to fight off danger.
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Etiology / Causes And Risk Factors Of Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is thought to have a psychobiological conceptualization . This does not mean that panic attacks are due to a biological disease. What this does mean is that there are certain biological factors that may be inherited or passed on through genes, and thus may lead some people to be more likely than others to experience panic disorder symptoms. This is likely why panic disorder seems to run in families. In other words, if one family member has panic disorder, the other family members are more likely to experience panic symptoms or panic disorder compared to people without a family history of panic disorder. It is very important to note that just inheriting these vulnerabilities to panic does not make the onset of panic attacks inevitable or unalterable. In fact, it is possible to think and act in ways that prevent panic attacks.
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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Offer A Coping Statement
While someone is having a panic attack, we do want to be empathic, but we dont want to reinforce the idea that panic is dangerous, harmful, or needing to be reduced, minimized, or escaped.
So, rather than giving your loved one lots of reassurance and fussing over them, it can help to remind them that they can cope with whats happening on their own. This gives them back their power to deal with the situation.
You can do this by offering supportive statements like:
- You can handle these symptoms.
- This will pass.
- The feelings arent comfortable, but you can accept them.
- This will roll over you, like a wave.
Remind them that, although panic attacks can feel never-ending, they typically peak in about 10 minutes. Its not possible for the body to stay ramped up for much longer than that.
Top 3 Exercises For Relieving Anxiety
The exercises discussed above are useful tools your client can use to prevent and control a panic attack.
They might also find it useful to know techniques for managing generalized anxiety that might exist in the broader context of their panic attacks.
As you learned above, anxiety can act as a sensitizing factor, making it more likely for a panic attack to occur. In a more general sense, your client may find it easier to engage with their therapy and maintain a positive attitude if they feel confident controlling their everyday mental health.
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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!
How Is Panic Disorder Diagnosed
Medical or mental health providers can diagnose panic disorder. Your provider may diagnose panic disorder when you have repeated panic attacks and you:
- Persistently worry about having more panic attacks or their consequences.
- Obsess about losing control during a panic attack.
- Change your behaviors to avoid situations that may trigger a panic attack.
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Take Any Prescribed Medications
Depending on the severity of panic attacks, a doctor may prescribe a use-as-needed medication. These medications typically work fast.
Some contain a benzodiazepine or a beta-blocker. Propranolol is a beta-blocker that slows a racing heartbeat and decreases blood pressure.
Benzodiazepines that doctors commonly prescribe for panic attacks include Valium and Xanax.
However, these drugs can be highly addictive, so people should use them exactly as their doctor prescribes. Taken with opioids or alcohol, they can have life threatening adverse effects.
A doctor may also describe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which can help prevent panic attacks from occurring in the first place.
Types Of Anxiety Disorders In Children
: Excessive worrying that something bad will happen if the child is not with their parents, caregiver, or anyone to whom they are attached. The child may be reluctant or refuse to stay at a relative or friends house, sleep alone or go to school. Many children experience separation anxiety between 18 months and three years old when it is normal to feel some anxiety when a parent leaves the room or goes out of sight. Usually, children can be distracted from these feelings. However, separation anxiety may surface or resurface when the child is older and especially between ages 7 and 9.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Chronic anxiety and excessive worry about everything and everyday life. A child with GAD worries about the meaning of a canceled play date or a delayed response to a text. Children with GAD fret about bad things happening to people they love or that no one will come to the birthday party they didnt want in the first place. The worry is overblown in relation to the events that sparked the worry. GAD is exhausting as children worry chronically and constantly and cant control these thoughts. In addition, children with GAD often dont trust their instincts and seek constant approval or reassurance from others.
A panic attack usually lasts about 15-30 minutes whereas the resulting fear of another attack persists and that fear of panic returning is what triggers avoidance behavior to avoid another attack.
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Symptoms Of A Panic Attack
For some people, panic attacks seem to come out of the blue or are triggered by uncomfortable sensations in the body, Duval says.
Signs of a panic attack include:
Feeling like things are unreal or unfamiliar
Fear of dying or fear of losing control
A panic attack would include at least four of these symptoms, Duval says.
She notes that panic attacks can come on quickly and peak, or be at their worst, within 10 minutes. Most attacks resolve relatively quickly, within 30 minutes for most people.
Nor are they dangerous: Panic attacks do not last forever panic will subside on its own, even if you dont do anything, Duval says.
Tell Yourself Youre Just Processing Information
When youre suffering from PTSD, panic attacks are so often you cant tell when youre actually having one. Youre in a constant state of fight or flight for months on end. Youre too scared to fall asleep and terrified while being awake. Eventually, when you do finally fall asleep, you wake up from nightmares that scare you awake. Sometimes they come as often as every ten minutes.
A social worker once told me that nightmares are the brains way of processing information. The best way to combat them is to say processing information every time you wake up from one. This little trick has helped desensitize nightmares over the long-term so you feel less panicked after waking up from one.
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There Are Two Levels Of Help That You Can Give Yourself For Panic Attacks:
Reducing Panic in the Midst of a Panic Attack
There are a number of things that you can do to decrease your panic and anxiety in the midst of a panic attack. That includes
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.
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