How To Cope When You Have Panic Attacks
Desperate for help, he reached out to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, which sent him a list of therapists experienced in treating panic attacks and anxiety. This is how I got better,” Sideman says. “I found a therapist who understood what panic disorder was, understood agoraphobia, and knew cognitive behavioral therapy, which I had not known about. He also started practicing meditation.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to help with treating panic disorder and agoraphobia. According to a study published in December 2013 in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy, its effects lasted as long as two years after the initial treatment. And a study published in August 2017 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology suggested that it may be superior to traditional psychotherapy in the treatment of this condition.
People generally can overcome panic attacks faster if they seek help after the first one or two, says psychologist Cheryl Carmin, PhD, director of clinical psychology training at the Wexner Medical Center and a professor at Ohio State University in Columbus. When you do seek help, your doctor or therapist will ask about your symptoms and the situations in which they arise, and might also recommend additional medical testing to rule out other health concerns.
What Causes Chest Pain
It is always a good idea to visit a doctor at least once to rule out any potential heart health issues. Anxiety can cause chest pain, but an important factor in reducing the stress of that chest pain is by making sure you are confident that your heart is in good health. Visiting a doctor is never a bad thing!
Often those living with anxiety and panic attacks will experience chest pain caused by any number of different factors. Some of these include:
- Hyperventilation â Those with panic attacks and anxiety are prone to hyperventilation, or breathing in too much oxygen. It is often due to rapid muscle contractions and excess air in the lungs. Hyperventilation contracts blood vessels and causes considerable chest pain.
- Bloatingâ anxiety can be connected to excess gas or bloating. Hyperventilation disorder can contribute to this as well. Bloating can cause an increased amount of pressure on the lungs, which in turn leads to chest pain.
- Psychosomaticâ most people donât like to believe the idea that the problem is in their head, but those with extreme anxiety and panic attacks, that are worried about their health, may feel genuine pain even though no cause of pain is present. Psychosomatic means that a physical ailment is aggravated or caused by their thoughts. The anxious mind actually convinces the body that there is a symptom, in this case chest pain.
Anxiety Attack Symptoms Include:
- Feeling of losing control or going crazy.
- Heart palpitations or chest pain.
- Feeling like youre going to pass out.
- Trouble breathing or choking sensation.
- Nausea or stomach cramps.
- Feeling detached or unreal.
Its important to seek help if youre starting to avoid certain situations because youre afraid of having a panic attack. The truth is that panic attacks are highly treatable. In fact, many people are panic free within just 5 to 8 treatment sessions.
S That Show What A Panic Attack Can Really Look Like
Panic attacks come out differently for everyone.
For some, panic might seep outward, coming out as uncontrollable crying or hyperventilating. For others, panic might cause them to go inward as they experience intense depersonalization. Everyones experience with panic attacks is valid, and those who know how scary panic attacks can be deserve our support and understanding no matter how their panic attacks appear.
To get a glimpse at the different ways panic attacks manifest, we asked our mental health community to share photos that show what a panic attack can look like. If you see yourself in any of these photos, youre not alone.
Heres what our community shared with us:
1.My dog alerting that Im about to have a PTSD-induced panic attack. He will stand like this unless I start trying to harm myself. He will then lie across my chest almost pinning my arms down. After the first wave slows down and I start calming down a little, he brings me my meds.Courtney H.
2.I love my birthday! Unfortunately, this is how I ended my 30th birthday. Under two heavy blankets and a pillow to try to calm my body during a mild panic attack. Turning 30 felt so daunting and scary. Now that Im 31, I love my 30s, and feel silly that my body felt the need for a panic attack about it.Amanda E.
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What Are Anxiety Attacks
Anxiety attack is not an official clinical term. The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , a book the vast majority of mental health professionals abide by, does not list it. Instead, the term anxiety attack is a colloquial phrase coined by people who have anxiety.
The term anxiety attack is used to describe intense or extended periods of anxiety. An attack is more overwhelming and intense than just having anxiety. But its not as severe as a panic attack. According to her book Stop Anxiety from Stopping You, Dr. Helen Odessky notes that the term anxiety attack became more common because people started feeling like anxiety was interrupting their life. As more and more clients began using it in therapy, mental health professionals began forming a more detailed definition.
Still, while the distinction between anxiety vs. panic attacks has become clearer over time, there isnt yet an official definition for an anxiety attack.
It Feels Like My Body Is Going At The Speed Of Light
Kevin Rosko, 61, Michigan City, Ind.
Courtesy Kevin Rosko
Kevin Rosko was 10 years old when he had his first panic attack. It happened after he watched his uncle get smashed in the head with a baseball. Even though his uncle ended up being fine, Rosko couldn’t stop thinking about what he’d seen.
That night in the bathtub, his heart started racing, his body felt numb and he told his mom he couldn’t breathe.
The panic attacks continued to happen occasionally through Rosko’s childhood and adult life. He saw different therapists and tried a variety of medications, but none got his anxiety totally under control.
The attacks didn’t happen very often, so Rosko learned to live with them. The symptoms were always the same:
“My heart starts pumping like I’m running Mount Everest, he says. It feels like my body is going at the speed of light. I get pain in my arms and back, I feel dizzy, my mind is racing.
Rosko worked as a crane operator at a steel mill before retiring in 2014. If he felt an attack coming on at work, his boss was good about giving him the rest of the day off.
Rosko also helped to care for his sister, who had Down syndrome and came to live with him when he was in his 40s. After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease five years ago, she became more difficult to care for. That’s when Rosko’s panic attacks ramped up. He began having one about every 10 days, severely impacting his quality of life.
“It relaxes me, he says. It helps me feel less antsy.
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Myth Vs Reality: What Does A Panic Attack Feel Like
Sometimes the hardest part is trying to feel understood through the stigma and misunderstanding of panic attacks.
Health and wellness touch each of us differently. This is one persons story.
The first time I had a panic attack, I was 19 and walking back from the dining hall to my college dorm.
I couldnt pinpoint what started it, what prompted the rush of color to my face, the shortness of breath, the quick onset of intense fear. But I began sobbing, wrapped my arms around my body, and hurried back to the room Id just moved into a triple with two other college students.
There was nowhere to go nowhere to hide my shame at this intense and unexplainable emotion so I curled up in bed and faced the wall.
What was happening to me? Why was it happening? And how could I make it stop?
It took years of therapy, education, and understanding the stigma surrounding mental illness to fully get a grasp on what was going on.
I eventually understood that the intense rush of fear and distress Id experienced many times by that point was called a panic attack.
There are many misconceptions about what panic attacks look and feel like. Part of reducing the stigma around these experiences is exploring what panic attacks look like and separating fact from fiction.
There are many different symptoms and its possible to experience feeling some of the symptoms, and not all of them.
What Causes Panic Attacks
Stress and pressure in the workplace is very common for adult panic attacks. Sometimes an individual can even expect an attack based on what is going on in their lives. Other times attacks come out of the blue with seemingly no reason. Expected panic attacks and anxiety attacks tend to be triggered by the same things. These include:
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Finally: Realize You Are Not Alone
Youre probably already thinking, oh here we go with this again.
Many people before you have experienced this, many are experiencing it with you today, and many will experience it tomorrow. So why does that matter?
Sometimes it helps to take solace in the fact that you have many people that are experiencing the same troubles you are. We are out here, and you can figure this out and move on just like we have.
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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What Happens In Your Brain
Scientists are still studying how panic attacks affect the brain. Itâs possible that the parts of the brain that are tied to fear become more active during an episode. One recent study found that people with panic disorder had lots of activity in a part of their brains tied to the âfight or flightâ response.
Other studies have found possible links between panic disorder and the chemicals in your brain. The condition may also be linked to an imbalance in serotonin levels, which can affect your moods.
What Does A Panic Attack Look Like
October 19, 2016 By 3cfs_Admin
Mental health has evolved as both a study and a societal function. Weve come a long way from lobotomies and two-dimensional characters in straitjackets.
Unfortunately, the scars of those misconceptions linger, and as a result, people may not realize when theyre experiencing a legitimate problem. They may dismiss it as a phase, a one-off episode, or as some kind of intangible craziness.
Because of their numerous symptoms and forms, panic attacks are one of the most misunderstood mental health episodes. Today, wed like to clear up some of those misconceptions.
Identifying a Panic Attack
At its core, a panic attack is an onset of extreme fear or dread that lasts longer than a few moments. It can be triggered by a variety of causes. Some of these are long-standing or broad past trauma, PTSD, biological issues or temporary/situational, such as a sudden loss or accident. Triggers are not always obvious, and may be internal or external.
Panic attacks can completely shut a person down, or they may function but be handicapped in some way. They may have trouble focusing, talking, or listening to others.
Speaking of internal versus external, a person having a panic attack is not always expressive. While a popular portrait of panic is screaming or shouting, a sufferer may actually shut down completely.
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What If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment
If you are not happy with your treatment you can:
- talk to your doctor about your treatment options,
- ask for a second opinion,
- get an advocate to help you speak to your doctor,
- contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service and see whether they can help, or
- make a complaint.
There is more information about these options below.
You should first speak to your doctor about your treatment. Explain why you are not happy with it. You could ask what other treatments you could try.
Tell your doctor if there is a type of treatment that you would like to try. Doctors should listen to your preference. If you are not given this treatment, ask your doctor to explain why it is not suitable for you.
A second opinion means that you would like a different doctor to give their opinion about what treatment you should have. You can also ask for a second opinion if you disagree with your diagnosis. You dont have a right to a second opinion. But your doctor should listen to your reason for wanting a second opinion.
An advocate is independent from the mental health service. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard. There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like.
The Patient Advice and Liaison Service
You can find your local PALS details through this website link: