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All Anxiety Is Serious Anxiety
Although it is possible for some anxiety to be more severe for some than for others, in many ways all anxiety is considered severe because of its impact on various aspects of your life now and later on:
- Quality of Life – Your quality of life is always important. Going through life with anxiety may mean experiencing less happiness because of its ability to interfere with your focus, sense of adventure, peace of mind, self-esteem, your projection of yourself in the world, etc.
- Stress – Stress is different from anxiety in that it does not cause impairment of your ability to function in life. Nevertheless, long term stress can still result in deleterious effects on your organs, weakening your immune system, impairing memory, accelerating aging, etc.
Also, if left untreated, anxiety may only worsen. Whether you already suffer from severe anxiety or you experience daily anxiety that simply makes it more difficult to manage life, all anxiety is relevant and damaging.
If Feeling Anxious Is Normal When Does It Become A Clinical Disorder
Anxiety is formally diagnosed as generalised anxiety disorder after meeting these specific criteria from the DSM-V:
- The presence of excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. Worry occurs more often than not for at least 6 months and is clearly excessive.
- The worry is experienced as very challenging to control.
- The anxiety and worry is accompanied with at least three of the following physical or cognitive symptoms :
- Tiring easily
- Increased muscle aches or soreness
A health practitioner will use standardised assessment tools, the above diagnostic criteria, and their clinical judgement to make a diagnosis of anxiety-related disorder.
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Causes Of Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
Although the exact causes of panic attacks and panic disorder are unclear, the tendency to have panic attacks runs in families. There also appears to be a connection with major life transitions such as graduating from college and entering the workplace, getting married, or having a baby. Severe stress, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or job loss can also trigger panic attacks.
Panic attacks can also be caused by medical conditions and other physical causes. If youre suffering from symptoms of panic, its important to see a doctor to rule out the following possibilities:
Alternative Anxiety Attack Definition
Earlier we mentioned that “anxiety attack” is not a medical term, but rather a descriptive term for intense moments of anxiety. Most people, including some medical professionals, refer to panic attacks as anxiety attacks simply because it is easier for people to understand. When you say panic, people tend to think of someone running away from Godzilla. When you term them anxiety attacks, people tend to understand it better.
But because anxiety attack is not a medical term, not everyone uses it the same way. Some people use anxiety attack as a way of describing severe symptoms of other anxiety disorders. For example, those with obsessive-compulsive disorder may have an “anxiety attack” when they encounter a trigger of extreme anxiety that forces them deep into their compulsions. Those with an upcoming test in school may call their significant worry about the test an anxiety attack even though theyre really just talking about being very nervous.
Keep this in mind when people describe anxiety attack, as the term may lead to a bit of miscommunication. For the purposes of this article, however, were talking about panic attacks, because panic attacks are a very real, very common anxiety problem that most people are referring to when they say they have these attacks.
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How Can I Treat Anxiety
Anxiety can be treated in a variety of ways. One common treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy , which helps provide people with tools to cope with anxiety when it occurs.
There are also certain medications, like antidepressants and sedatives, that work to balance brain chemistry and prevent episodes of anxiety. They may even ward off the most severe symptoms.If youre looking to go a more natural route, though, there are little and big ways you can help combat anxiety.
You can make adjustments to habits, like exercise, sleep, and diet. You can also try something totally new, like aromatherapy or meditation. No matter what your lifestyle demands, theres a natural way to help reduce anxiety for everyone.
What Are Some Of The Long
There are many ways to treat panic disorder and panic attacks including CBT , exposure therapy, and medications.
Otherwise known as talk therapy, psychotherapy can help you understand your diagnosis and how it impacts your life. Your therapist will also work with you to develop strategies that help decrease the severity of the symptoms.
One psychotherapy technique that has been proven successful in treating panic disorder and attacks is CBT. This form of therapy emphasizes the important role that thinking has in how we feel and what we do.
CBT teaches you new ways of thinking, acting, and reacting to situations that cause anxiety. It also teaches you how to view panic attacks differently and demonstrates ways to reduce anxiety. Plus, you can learn how to change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that bring on panic attacks.
But if therapy isnt something you can access, Viciere recommends the following activities to help you get a better understanding of your triggers:
Even though panic attacks can feel like a heart attack or other serious condition, it will not cause you to die. However, panic attacks are serious and need to be treated.
If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, its essential that you contact your physician for further help.
- Panic disorder. .
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Manage Stress By Changing Your Habits
Keeping your bodys stress in check will prevent you from experiencing involuntary anxiety attacks. You will also be able to increase the amount of control you have over your bodys reactions to perceived threats when stress is minimized.
For example, when you experience something that at first seems very threatening, if your overall stress level is low, you will have the capacity to recognize if the stimulus is actually a threat or if it is just your anxiety acting up.
If your stress level is constantly elevated, your body is more likely to act involuntarily, which can decrease your control over your mental and physical capacities. This means that you may not be able to recognize that a stimulus actually poses no threat to your safety, and therefore experience unnecessary anxiety in its presence. You can greatly decrease your stress .
To stay on track on developing good habits, you can create SMART goals that will help you alleviate your anxiety.
Recognize That Youre Having A Panic Attack
Take away the fear that you may be dying or that impending doom is looming, both symptoms of panic attacks. This can allow you to focus on other techniques to reduce your symptoms.
It is not always possible to avoid triggers for a panic attack, but if you know what triggers it, this can help you understand that it is a panic attack and not something else.
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Learn To Use Positive Coping Statements
When you are feeling anxious and panicky it can be helpful to have ‘coping statements’ which can be used to remind you that panic is not dangerous and isn’t harmful.
Such statements could be:
- Panic is simply high levels of anxiety
- My anxiety and panic will pass naturally given time. It doesn’t last forever
- I can continue without needing to escape or avoid
- I have never fainted, choked, or had a heart attack
Reminding yourself of these facts can help to prevent further panic cycles happening.
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:
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What Does A Panic Attack Feel Like
The first step in managing a panic attack is being able to recognize when it’s happening.
Panic attacks can impact the entire body and mind and, along with physical symptoms, bring about feelings of doom, dread, and intense fear. They usually come on without warning, and their cause may be unknown.
Panic attacks can be so distressing that they can cause the person to feel as though they are dying, and the experience of having a panic attack can bring about additional fear or anxiety of future panic attacks.
When panic attacks continue to occur over time, it could be a sign of a panic disorder.
Carry Essential Oils A Plush Fabric And Other Multisensorial Objects
One of the worst symptoms of panic attacks in my experience is that sense of unreality like Im somehow outside my body. Dr. Rodriguez recommends carrying items with you that can help engage your senses to help ground you.
Things like essential oils can help bring you back into your body, she says, adding to carry a soft, fuzzy piece of fabric or even feel your own shirt. Feel it, think about it, listen to it.
Other ways of anchoring yourself during an attack include rubbing your hands or bare feet on a surface such as a chair, couch or rug, says Dr. Schaeffer. Put an ice cube in a paper towel and squeeze it as hard as you can in one hand for a minute until you can feel the coldness and discomfort. Switch hands and repeat until you have the same sensations in your other hand.
When we avoid panic or treat it like an enemy, we make it stronger.
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Reframe Anxious Behavior And Stop Scaring Yourself
As we mentioned, anxiety attacks are mostly caused by apprehensive behavior scaring ourselves with worry and imagining the worst. Therefore, being afraid of anxiety attacks is one of the most common reasons why anxiety attacks sustainand why people develop Panic Attack Disorder. Since fear is the most common reason why anxiety attacks occur and persist, refusing to scare yourself removes the main reason anxiety attacks occur.
When you stop scaring yourself with worry and imagining the worst, you eliminate the most common cause of anxiety attacks. Yes, you can learn to stop scaring yourself. This is the second most powerful way to eliminate anxiety attacks.
For example, rather than thinking, Oh my gosh, this is awful. What if I completely lose it? Use more affirmative language such as, Ok, this doesnt feel good right now. But its just my bodys emergency response and it will end as I stop scaring myself.
Or, instead of thinking, This is awful. I cant stand it! Reframe that thought to, This is what a high degree stress response feels like. Many people go to great lengths to feel this way. Its a normal part of the bodys survival mechanism. Its not dangerous and I dont have to be afraid of it.
The stress response is our ally not our enemy.
Keep in mind that the Stress Response is our ally when in real danger. It gives the body an emergency boost so that we are better equipped to deal with the threat.
Breathing Exercise For Panic Attacks
If youre breathing quickly during a panic attack, doing a breathing exercise can ease your other symptoms. Try this:
- breathe in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can, through your nose
- breathe out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth
- some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five on each in-breath and each out-breath
- close your eyes and focus on your breathing
You should start to feel better in a few minutes. You may feel tired afterwards.
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Useful Ways To Stop An Anxiety Attack
Erin O’Callaghan, PhDDirector of Therapy
If you struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, you know the discomfort all too well. Panic attacks, which are sometimes colloquially referred to as anxiety attacks, can cause a variety of symptoms and may manifest differently for different people.
Anxiety itself can be very hard to manage and get control over, and when panic attacks come into the picture, too, things can feel that much more overwhelming and draining. That said, there are several ways that you can try to manage a panic attack, and practicing certain coping techniques may help you more easily manage them when the time comes.
Certain methods of anxiety and stress reduction may also help prevent panic attacks from happening in the first place, or at least may help reduce the frequency of panic attacks that you experience. This is your ultimate guide to stopping panic attacks.
Lean On Effective Support People
A network of support people is essential to managing anxiety, Neidich says, but those support people must be effective in helping you cope — that is, they should make you feel better, not worse.
Lean on people who can offer you the kind of support you personally need, like physical touch or an ear to listen to how you feel. Avoid anyone who asks you why you had an anxiety attack. After an anxiety attack or on the fringes of one, it’s important to not talk about the cause behind it, Neidich says, pointing back to distraction techniques.
It’s important to be clear on what you need from your loved ones in regard to anxiety, Neidich says — it’s a “huge part of a comprehensive anxiety-management plan.”
“Be sure to talk ahead of time about what language is and is not helpful,” Neidich says, noting that it’s not someone else’s responsibility to help you with your anxiety attack, but it is your responsibility to communicate your needs.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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Controlling Your Anxiety Attacks
While there is no proven cure for anxiety attacks, the above-mentioned approaches can be helpful in moderating anxiety and managing the severity and prevalence of anxiety attacks.
Your knowledge can also be power. Learn more about your anxiety and what causes your symptom, and the less you’ll find your anxiety symptoms to be as frightening. If you can control the way your mind goes out of control during an anxiety attack, you’ll reduce the severity of the attack, and possibly prevent one altogether. Whether its breathing exercises, distractions, or some other technique, there are options out there that can help you prevent a severe anxiety attack from affecting your life.
Still, preventing is going to be your best bet for avoiding anxiety attacks in the future. That is why you’ll also need to start taking steps to reduce your anxiety in general. The less anxiety you have in your daily life the less likely you’ll have severe panic attacks in the first place. Through therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, self-help, or any other long term treatment strategies, anxiety attacks can be both reduced and managed provided you are ready to make the commitment.
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When To Use Medication
Sometimes, panic attacks cannot be managed entirely alone. If panic attacks become an ongoing concern or they cause significant anxiety or fear about future panic attacks, it might be necessary to see a therapist or doctor.
Types of therapeutic interventions that have been shown to have the best outcomes include cognitive behavioral therapy and humanistic therapy. CBT involves understanding the relationship between thoughts and behaviors and working toward changing negative or distorted thoughts to more positive, helpful ones.
One study found CBT to be between 85% and 90% successful in treating panic disorders.
Humanistic therapy is a type of intervention that helps people make rational decisions and accept responsibility for themselves. Common humanistic therapy approaches include client-centered therapy, gestalt therapy, and existential therapy.
If therapy alone is not effective in treating panic attacks, as may be the case in severe cases of panic disorders, medications may be recommended and prescribed by a psychiatrist. Commonly prescribed medications that have been shown to be effective in helping with panic disorders include antidepressants and benzodiazepines.
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What Is An Anxiety Attack
An anxiety attack is a high degree stress response activated by either overly apprehensive behavior or by the involuntary action of a chronically stressed body.
In other words, anxiety attacks have two main causes:Voluntary anxiety attacks: When we worry something terrible might happen and the body responds with a high degree stress response.
Involuntary anxiety attacks: When the body activates a high degree stress response all by itself due to the adverse effects of chronic stress.