How To Teach Your Children About Anxiety Or Panic Attacks
Anxiety attacks usually last for about 10-15 minutes however it can feel like a lifetime for both you and your child. After your child has his or her first panic attack, it is important to educate them on the signs and symptoms associated with panic attacks so if another one occurs, they can understand what is happening. Teach your children that panic attacks are a false alarm in their bodies. Let them know the physical sensations associated with a panic attack so that when they experience them, it wont be as scary.
Stay Calm And Collected
Panic attacks can seem frightening to witness. You may not be sure what to do when your friend or family member appears unable to control their fear. However, panic attacks are much scarier for the individual experiencing them. The best thing you can do to support your loved one is to stay calm and collected. Remember, the situation is not about you. If you need to talk about it with them, you can do so later, once they have recovered from the episode. In the moment, your focus needs to be on helping them feel safe and giving them the time to calm down.
During a panic attack, an individuals body is being flooded by fear signals. They cannot control their responses to things. It is scary enough to feel out of control, and if those around them also seem panicked, it will just feed into the attack. The best way to convince them there is nothing to be afraid of is by acting as if this is the case. Keep your posture neutral, your voice calm, and your volume low and soothing.
Ground Yourself And Then Write A Quick Note
This takes practice, but when your anxiety begins taking over, experts say being present and reasonable can help shorten the duration.
When I get in the middle of my what-if snowball, at some point I’m able to back off, says Elaine, a 32-year-old mother in Indiana, who has been diagnosed with panic disorder. I sometimes have to actually tell myself to stop out loud. I’ve said, Stop, Elaine. That’s ridiculous. When I take a second to really evaluate whether or not what I’m thinking is reasonable, I am able to recognize it’s not and just move on.
In cases where she cannot recognize whether her thoughts or anxiety is normal, she physically writes down a note and discusses it with her therapist.
Studies show that people who wrote about emotionally charged episodes were happier, less depressed and less anxious.
Which science says is a smart move. Writing down your fears can actually help reduce them, and ease the anxiety that accompanies them. One study found that writing thoughts down and physically throwing them in the garbage can be an effective way to clear your mind.
So keep a notebook and pen in your car, by your bedside, and in your purse for when anxious thoughts begin to creep up.
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Dealing With Anxiety The How
Here are some ways to manage anxiety by strengthening the structure and function of your brain in ways that protect it against anxiety. Remember though, the brain is like any other muscle in your body it will get stronger with practice. I wish I could tell you that it would get stronger with pizza and tacos but that would be a dirty big lie and very unhelpful. Delicious maybe, but unhelpful. What isnt a lie is that the following strategies have been proven by tons of very high-brow research to be very powerful in helping to reduce anxiety.
Mindfulness. But first to show you why.
A mountain of studies have shown that mindfulness can be a little bit magic in strengthening the brain against anxiety. In a massive analysis of a number of different mindfulness/anxiety studies, mindfulness was found to be associated with robust and substantial reductions in symptoms of anxiety.
Mindfulness changes the brain the way exercise changes our body but without the sweating and panting. Two of the ways mindfulness changes the brain are:
Okay then. What else can mindfulness do?
Plenty. Mindfulness can improve concentration, academic performance, the ability to focus, and it can help with stress and depression. It also increases gray matter, which is the part of the brain that contains the neurons. Neurons are brain cells, so we want plenty of them and plenty of gray matter for them to hang out in.
So mindfulness hey? What is it exactly?
Is there an app for that?
Is Someone Else Having The Panic Attack
If your friend or family member has panic attacks, some things that you can do to help include the following:
- Stay calm to let the person know that everything is and will be ok. The person might be scared – try to remember that a panic attack is just an intense response to stress. Dont act panicked or voice their fears instead be a soothing voice of encouragement
- Stay with the person as they ride out the panic attack remind them you are there to support them and that it will pass
- Be understanding and empathetic dont act embarrassed, ashamed or ask them to stop, as they cant help what they are going through. Instead be positive, tell them how well they are doing and that you know they can get through this
- Try to help through deep breathing or guided imagery to help redirect a persons focus
You may also want to encourage them to seek help. If their panic attacks are having an impact on their home or work life, they may want to get the support of a mental health professional.
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Engage In Light Exercise
Endorphins keep the blood pumping in exactly the right away. It can help flood our body with endorphins, which can improve our mood. Because youre stressed, choose light exercise thats gentle on the body, like walking or swimming.
The exception to this is if youre hyperventilating or struggling to breathe. Do what you can to catch your breath first.
Focus On Taking Action
A soothing voice might help some people, but try to avoid saying things like Dont worry over and over. You might mean well, but your words may not help in the moment. Try these suggestions:
- Remind your friend to take slow, deep breaths and breathe with them. This can often help as they start to mirror your actions.
- Ask them to count backwards slowly from 100.
- Help them to get comfortable .
- Ask them to name five things they can see, hear, smell or feel.
- Reassure them that theyre experiencing panic and that it will go away.
- If the symptoms continue, become worse, or they dont improve after 2030 minutes, call 000.
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What Causes An Anxiety Attack
Before I share my tips for what to during an anxiety attack, its helpful to know why they happen in the first place.
It all starts with your brain zeroing in on a threat and activating the fight-or-flight response. This coincides with an adrenaline boost, which brings on the typical symptoms of a panic attack.
This would be quite a good thing if you were facing actual danger but because the threat is a perceived danger and not real, these kinds of symptoms just cause more panic, especially if they have come on all of a sudden and dont feel as though they are a response to anything.
The end result? The symptoms lead you to believe you are seriously ill or actually dying and youre having a full blown anxiety attack.
It can often be the case that youll worry about whether youll have another anxiety attack and this can actually trigger another anxiety attack.
Often, an anxiety attack will happen when youre under a good deal of stress, though not always. The very first time you experience an anxiety attack will often come completely out of the blue and future experiences will often follow the same pattern.
Anxiety Centre describes them as an involuntary anxiety attack that is caused by chronic stress that puts the body in high-stress mode and can encourage an anxiety attack for no obvious reason.
Things To Do To Help Someone Suffering From An Anxiety Attack
Anyone around you can suffer from an anxiety attack at any time. And while you may not be a professional when it comes to handling these situations, you should still know what you can do to help them feel a bit better.
Here are 6 things you can do to help someone suffering from an anxiety attack.
Sticking around: The first and most important thing to do when you see someone having an anxiety attack is to keep a close eye on them. Make sure you are there to comfort them. Whatever you do, do not let them out of your sight. Leave only if you have urgent matters to deal with and get someone else to watch over them while you are gone.
Panic attacks can make an individual feel vulnerable. On top of that, being alone in such a situation will only make matters worse for them. Hence, you have to stay put and be with them throughout the attack and even after it has passed.
Keeping calm: While dealing with someone who is having a panic attack, you need to stay calm and keep the other person calm as well. Do not start panicking, otherwise, you will lose hold of the situation. Instead, act smartly.
Keep the person grounded and help them distract themselves. Offer them some water as well . You can also try holding their hands if they allow you to. Besides, you could even cover them with a weighted blanket to help them keep calm.
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Is It A Panic Attack Or A Heart Attack
Because of your increased heart rate, blood flow, and breathing, it can feel like having a heart attack. Many people mistake panic attacks for heart attacks and wind up in the hospital with unnecessary medical bills.
You never want to take chest pain lightly and you should always get chest pain diagnosed. However, its important to understand the recurring symptoms of panic attacks. If you experience these symptoms frequently and they are tied to panic attacks, it can help reduce the severity of your anxiety attacks.
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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Learn How To Manage Your Anxious Thoughts
Anxiety doesn’t come out of the blue. When you have anxiety attacks, it’s often because your mind tends to spiral into negative thoughts – often without your control. Sometimes you can control this anxiety by keeping these thoughts at bay and learning to dismiss triggers that cause you anxiety.
For many, this is easier said than done. But there are many different strategies you can try that may be effective. These include:
A Question Checklist
When you feel anxious, have a checklist on hand of questions to ask yourself about that anxiety experience. The longer the checklist, the more you’ll find that your thoughts become more realistic. Questions that you can use include:
- Is there a reason to believe something is wrong?
- What evidence is there that something is wrong?
- Is there a chance I’m blowing this out of proportion?
Affirmations not for everyone, but those that do use them find them to be very beneficial. Affirmations are things that you say to yourself to make yourself feel better. These include:
- I’m okay. This is just anxiety and I will get passed this .
- I have a great life and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
- My anxiety won’t control me.
Getting Used to Physical Symptoms
The latter is known as “exposure therapy” and there are countless ways to create exercises that will habituate you to your panic attack triggers.
Panic Disorder In Children
Panic disorder is more common in teenagers than in younger children.
Panic attacks can be particularly hard for children and young people to deal with. Severe panic disorder may affect their development and learning.
If your child has the signs and symptoms of panic disorder, they should see a GP.
After taking a detailed medical history the GP will carry out a thorough physical examination to rule out any physical causes for the symptoms.
They may refer your child to a specialist for further assessment and treatment. The specialist may recommend a course of CBT for your child.
Screening for other anxiety disorders may also be needed to help find the cause of your child’s panic attacks.
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Advice On What To Do During A Panic Attack
A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense anxiety that happens without warning. It is often accompanied by powerful physical symptoms and can be so frightening that people can believe that they are having a heart attack, collapsing or even dying.
It is important to know what to do in the moment when a panic attack arises and recognise that there is help available to support in the longer term.
No-one wants to experience panic attacks. At Priory Group, we know that they can stop a person from being able to live their life to the full. With the right treatment, panic attacks can be controlled and prevented, allowing a person to take steps towards living a healthy and fulfilling life.
How Can I Help My Child During An Anxiety Or Panic Attack
Anxiety attacks, formally known as panic attacks, are scary. As a parent, it can be extremely devastating to witness your child experience a panic attack and as a child or a teenager, a panic attack can feel life-threatening. Many describe panic attacks as feeling as though a room is closing in on them, feeling as though they are having a heart attack or that they may die. Panic attacks can be triggered by specific things or may occur suddenly for no reason. Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder and is diagnosed if your child suffers at least two unexpected panic or anxiety attacks followed by at least one month of concern over having another attack.
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