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.
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.
Anxiety Attacks And Severity
What makes anxiety attacks unique is that even though they are a mental health issue, it is often the physical symptoms that get the most attention, This is what those without anxiety often struggle to understand. Anxiety attacks cause intense physical symptoms that mimic serious health disorders. Symptoms include:
- Chest pains
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
- Rapid heartbeat/heart palpitations
In many ways, anxiety attacks are similar to heart attacks. There may be other unusual issues as well, such as trouble with your vision, your teeth, your muscles, your nerves, and more. For example, some people experience weird jolts, others experience blurry vision, others experience tooth pain or hear unexplained noises.
Not all anxiety attacks are the same, but they all tend to be very physical and result in a feeling like something is terribly wrong.
What makes anxiety attacks worse is that they cause other symptoms that exacerbate the physical problems. One of the symptoms of anxiety attacks is this incredibly intense feeling of doom – as though something horrific is about to happen. That is actually a symptom of anxiety attacks, not just a response to the physical sensations, but when combined with the physical symptoms it can make a person convinced that they are about to suffer from something terrible.
Anxiety attacks also have other frightening psychological symptoms as well, such as:
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Some People May Develop Panic Disorders
For many people, the feelings of panic occur only occasionally during periods of stress or illness. A person who experiences recurring panic attacks is said to have panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder. They generally have recurring and unexpected panic attacks and persistent fears of repeated attacks.
Symptoms Of Anxiety Attacks
It is normal to feel anxious in response to certain situations or experiences. Our bodies have a natural fight-or-flight response when faced with danger or stress. Anxiety attacks go beyond feeling butterflies in your stomach when youre nervous and extend to an overwhelming feeling of helplessness.
The signs and symptoms of an anxiety attack can vary from person to person but are generally experienced as both physical and psychological indicators. Many times the symptoms occur in response to a trigger that the person perceives as a threat or possible danger. Other times, the symptoms can occur spontaneously.
A person experiencing an anxiety attack could have any number of the following signs and symptoms:
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A Panic Attack Comes Out Of Nowhere And Is Not An Anxiety Attack
Though we tend to use the terms panic attack and anxiety attack interchangeably, its worth noting that professionally speaking , theres actually no such thing as an anxiety attack, per se.
Anxiety is an excessive persistent worrying over an imminent event that can last a while. A panic attack is a burst of intense fear that typically lasts fewer than 30 minutes, Dr. Carolyn Rodriguez, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford tells NBC News BETTER. She says that she would never use the term anxiety attack to define any such event, noting that the term is something of a lay approach.
Additionally, when panic attacks are linked to a panic disorder, they come out of the blue with no apparent trigger, but anyone can experience a panic attack. If youre afraid of heights for instance, and are up on the roof, you might have a panic attack. The difference here is that in this case, the panic attack has a clear cause, whereas with a panic disorder theres no obvious culprit in the environment.
Do Some Deep Breathing
The feeling of shortness of breath often stems from shallow breathing during a panic attack. You can combat this by purposely breathing slowly and deeplyinhale for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts. Focus on taking deep breaths in and out, feeling the air slowly fill your stomach and then slowly empty air from your stomach. Deep breaths will send more oxygen to your brain and your organs and help you relax. Close your eyes to help you focus on your breathing.
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Complications Of Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is treatable and you can make a full recovery. But it’s best to get medical help as soon as you can.
If you do not get medical help, panic disorder can escalate and become very difficult to cope with.
Having panic disorder may affect your ability to drive. The law requires you to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency about a medical condition that could impact your driving ability.
Visit GOV.UK for further information about driving with a disability or health condition.
Suffering From Severe Anxiety
Anxiety is an incredibly stressful, but arguably manageable disorder. Many people still work, spend time with friends, and hold onto relationships while living with anxiety. But others are more affected by it, and some even struggle to complete the tasks of everyday life.
The best way to characterize a severe anxiety disorder is one that is disabling or significantly impairs someone from managing their activities or responsibilities. For example:
- Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia – Agoraphobia is a fear of being outdoors or in unfamiliar places. Panic disorder is generally characterized as with or without agoraphobia. Panic attacks can be disabling on their own, and so severe that hospitalization is required. However, the addition of agoraphobia worsens their symptoms and experiences, because it makes it difficult to go outside or enjoy any type of social life – and the anxiety a person does experience while outdoors is significant.
- Severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Some individuals suffer from severe OCD, which consists of being so engrossed in repetitive thoughts and the need to perform acts/compulsions in order to ease the anxiety caused by the thoughts. The degree of compulsions can make people unable to actually live their lives because they are forced to spend so much time acting out their compulsions.
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When To Seek Help
Panic attacks can be frightening and disorienting. If someone is worried about a panic attack, they can talk to their doctor for advice and reassurance.
A person may want to talk to a healthcare professional if their panic attacks:
- are recurring and unexpected
- are getting in the way of daily life
- do not pass with home coping methods
A doctor can talk a person through both short-term coping methods and long-term treatment options.
The symptoms of a panic attack can resemble those of a heart attack. These include chest pain, anxiety, and sweating. If someone suspects a heart attack or stroke, the person needs immediate medical attention.
Anxiety Attack: The Most Common Symptoms
- Insane, overwhelming strike of panic
- Dizziness, feeling faint or light headed.
- Accelerated heartbeat or heart palpitations
- Numbness, particularly in your feet and hands.
- Feeling detached and unreal. Basically, you feel like you are going crazy.
- Fearing youre dying.
An anxiety attack can roll in with most of the above or just a few symptoms, coming one after another or all at once.
The symptoms can last from a few seconds to a terrible half an hour, though the average number is 10 minutes says, Doctor Merav Gur.
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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.
Visit the No Panic website for another breathing exercise to calm panic.
What Causes Panic Attacks
Experts dont know why some people experience panic attacks or develop panic disorder. The brain and nervous system play key roles in how you perceive and handle fear and anxiety. Your risk of having panic attacks increases if you have:
- Family history:Anxiety disorders, including panic disorders, often run in families. Experts arent sure why.
- Mental health issues: People who have anxiety disorders, depression or other mental illness are more prone to panic attacks.
- Substance abuse problems:Alcoholism and drug addiction can increase the risk of panic attacks.
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How To Cope With Panic Attacks
When you have had a panic attack, you might worry about if – or when – you are next going to have one. This can make everyday tasks like going to school, leaving the house or meeting up with friends much more difficult. But remember, you are not alone and there is support available to help you get through this. If you are worried about when you are next going to have a panic attack, here are some things that can help you cope.
Speak to someone you trust. If you are feeling anxious or worried that you might have a panic attack, talk to friends or family. They can help you take your mind off what is making you feel panicked and support you to find the help you need. If you are struggling to say how you are feeling, you can always write your thoughts down or put them in notes on your phone if you are planning to speak to a teacher or your GP.
If you are worried about having a panic attack at school, college, or university, speak to a teacher or a member of staff. They can work with you to help you with things like finding a safe space to take some time out if you are feeling anxious or panicked.
If you feel like youre struggling to cope with everyday tasks, speak to your GP. They can listen to how you are feeling and suggest different types of treatments like therapy or counselling to help you tackle your panic attacks.
How Are Anxiety Attacks Diagnosed And Treated
- There is no test that can say for sure that you have an anxiety disorder. An anxiety attack can feel like symptoms of other health problems, so these problems need to be ruled out. For example, chest pain and shortness of breath during an anxiety attack can feel like a heart attack.
- Repeated anxiety attacks are a real health problem that needs to be treated. You may need to see a counselor. A counselor may help you understand what is causing the anxiety or fear. A counselor may help you learn relaxation techniques to decrease your anxiety. Medicine may also be needed to help your anxiety. It may take many months of treatment to make sure your anxiety attacks do not come back.
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What Is A Panic Attack
A panic attack causes sudden, brief feelings of fear and strong physical reactions in response to ordinary, nonthreatening situations. When youre having a panic attack, you may sweat a lot, have difficulty breathing and feel like your heart is racing. It may feel as if youre having a heart attack.
Panic disorder can develop when you worry too much about having another panic attack or change behaviors to avoid having a panic attack.
What Just Happened To Me
When we have scary thoughts, or are in scary situation our bodies are tricked into thinking were in danger. This is a biological hangover from our caveman times, when scary thoughts usually meant THERES A MAMMOTH OUTSIDE ABOUT TO EAT ME and you needed adrenaline to be able to fight it off/run away quickly.
But if there isnt a woolly mammoth outside, then theres nowhere for this adrenaline to go. Your body cant distinguish between mammoths and work stress/feeling squashed in a crowd. So this adrenaline causes all these horrible feelings of panic. When you then panic about these feelings, and thus release MORE adrenaline, youll likely trigger a panic attack.
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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.
Write Out The Facts And Mantras On An Index Card And Keep It On You
One of the tools that has helped me is knowing that even the most vicious panic attack cant kill me. Dr. Rodriguez recommends writing this fact down on an index card or in your phone to read when you feel one coming on. Panic attacks are not life-threatening, she says. Write this down. And maybe add the note to yourself, You have survived panic attacks before. You will survive this one.
Dr. Prakash Masand, founder of the Center for Psychiatric Excellence, recommends writing down some positive mantras to get you out of a catastrophic thought pattern. Or better yet, prepare your own. When you have the negative thoughts of gloom and doom, write down some positive and more realistic rebuttals.
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