What Triggers An Anxiety Attack
Anxiety attacks are unusual, in that they can be triggered under moments of heavy stress or fear, or they can be triggered by nothing at all. Often the first anxiety attack comes at a moment in a person’s life when they’re experiencing a lot of stress . But future panic attacks can be caused by almost anything:
- Worry that theyll have another panic attack.
- Paying too much attention to how the body feels.
- Absolutely nothing.
Once again, it is because anxiety attacks can seem and feel so random that not everyone that has them even knows or believes that theyre having an anxiety attack. Those that have panic attacks too often may even start to develop other anxiety conditions, such as health anxiety, because of how difficult it is to feel like their anxiety attacks are real.
Not everyone that has an anxiety attack once will have it again, however. Some people only experience an anxiety attack because they are under profound stress and exhaustion, or theyre faced with a dangerous situation. For example, if you almost got into a car accident you may experience a panic attack, but only because your anxiety in that situation was so strong that it was uncontrollable.
But many that have panic attacks will have them again. It depends on the individual.
Focus On Your Senses And Surroundings
When you are having a panic attack, you can feel out of touch with things around you. One way you can feel back in touch with your surroundings is by picking out five things you can see, hear, taste, touch, or smell. This is called a grounding exercise. You can pick a couple for each sense, or focus on one sense, like finding five things that you can see. This can help you feel connected with your surroundings and in control.
Anxiety Vs Panic Attacks
Anxiety and panic attacks are both very common. They are both often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed as medical conditions.
Anxiety is characterized by ongoing worry or fear about the future. With generalized anxiety disorder , for example, anxiety symptoms are present for normal everyday experiences and can create mild-to-severe interruptions in a person’s life. With anxiety, symptoms may be present on some level all the time or during specific periods of known stressors, such as during a public presentation.
Panic attacks tend to come on suddenly and can happen from either a calm state or a state of feeling anxious. They often occur without warning or a known trigger and bring a sense of doom, intense fear, and a feeling of dying.
Similarly, both anxiety and panic attacks have physical and psychological symptoms. With panic attacks, however, the symptoms tend to come on quickly and are often only present for up to 10 minutes. With anxiety, symptoms can be present for a much longer period of time.
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Helping Someone Who Is Having A Panic Attack
Dont diagnose a panic attack in someone else, but learning to recognize the symptoms will help you better support someone whos in distress. When speaking to them, remain calm and use a calm voice. You can help in the following five ways:
Stopping Panic: What To Do When Youre Having A Panic Attack
Here, some strategies that have worked for others that may help you:
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Always Seek Professional Advice
Always seek medical advice if you are not sure whether your symptoms, or another persons symptoms, indicate a panic attack. In an emergency, dial triple zero for an ambulance. Its important to see your doctor for a check-up to make sure that any recurring physical panic-like symptoms are not due to illnesses, including:
Do I Need Treatment For Anxiety
Thereâs a lot you can do on your own to relieve anxiety, but sometimes you need help. Psychotherapy and medication are the two main treatments for anxiety disorders.
Signs that itâs time to talk to a mental health professional include:
- Constant or nearly constant anxiety
- Anxiety that gets in the way of your daily activities, like work or social life
- Anxiety about things that donât actually threaten you
- Panic attacks
Check your health insurance policy to see what mental health services your plan covers. Then, review a list of your in-network providers to find one to connect with.
âYou donât want to add to your anxiety by paying big out-of-pocket fees,â Kissen says.
Your primary care doctor may also be able to recommend a mental health professional with experience treating anxiety and anxiety disorders.
Rosmarin notes that itâs important to find a provider you click with and trust. He also says therapy doesnât need to go on indefinitely to be effective.
âA course of cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety may be eight to 10 sessions,â he says. âThereâs also data to suggest that people feel substantially better after just one therapy session for panic disorder.â
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Treatment Options For Patients With Anxiety
There are two primary treatments for individuals with anxiety:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy , which involves learning how to lower anxiety and face distressing situations.
- Medication management with antidepressants, which works well on its own but even better when coupled with CBT.
During therapy, continue to show your support by:
- Asking your loved one what you can do to help them.
- Asking if you can attend a therapy session to learn some skills to better support them.
- Making time for your own life and interests to sustain your energy.
- Encouraging your loved one to try another therapist if the first one isnt a good fit.
Learn To Recognize The Signs Of Anxiety
Anxiety disorder is the most common mental health condition in the United States, affecting up to 18% of the population. Knowing the signs of anxiety can help you realize when someone you love is having fearful thoughts or feelings. Symptoms vary from person to person but can be broken into three categories:
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Treatments For Anxiety Attacks
When anxiety attacks take control of your life and you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, your doctor may suggest two forms of treatment:
Talk therapy is the first approach to treating anxiety attacks. You and your therapist will discuss what might be the root cause of your anxiety disorder. Psychotherapy helps give you the skills to healthily cope with the symptoms of anxiety. The common types of therapy are cognitive-behavior therapy and exposure therapy.
There are several types of medication that help relieve anxiety attack symptoms. The type of medicine will depend on the anxiety disorder or other mental health issues you may be facing. Certain antidepressants can treat anxiety. Your doctor may prescribe an anti-anxiety medicine, like buspirone.
Along with these two types of treatment, there are things you can try at home to help you cope when symptoms start to begin:
Talk To The Teacher About Your Anxiety In Private
The absolute first thing you should do is stop believing that its you against the world, here.
If your panic attacks have a specific trigger, you should have an honest conversation with your teacher or professor immediately.
If youre wondering how to tell a professor you struggle with presentation anxiety or another form of classroom anxiety, just take a few minutes after class, or shoot them an email.
I know, I know. Youre embarrassed of your panic attacks and dont want to talk to anyone about them.
Just trust me on this one, though.
Most teachers didnt get into the education field because they wanted to watch students suffer. Most teachers genuinely want to help make a positive difference in your life.
Good teachers dont take pleasure in watching the mental health of their students deteriorate before their eyes. Especially if they suspect that your anxiety could lead to you cutting class, skipping assignments, or dropping out entirely.
Whatever your trigger for panic attacks at school may be, talk to them honestly about it. It may be embarrassing, but it could save you a lot of stress in the long run.
Ideally, theyll help to find a way to reasonably accommodate you.
Maybe theyll stop calling on you when your hand isnt raised. Maybe theyll stop asking you to read aloud to the class.Maybe theyll offer you alternative assignments rather than reading a speech in front of the class.
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Write Down The Signs Of An Anxiety Attack
Once you know youre having an anxiety attack, try to jot down a few of the symptoms and thoughts you are experiencing. This can help you put your anxiety attack into perspective.
One of the things that worsens anxiety and can make it develop into a panic attack is looking at those symptoms in a catastrophic way, says Cheryl Carmin, PhD, director of clinical psychology training at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center and a professor at Ohio State in Columbus.
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 Disorders:
Anyone may experience these symptoms during stressful times. However, individuals with anxiety disorders may experience them in absence of stress, with more severe symptoms and/or with several symptoms appearing together.
- Inability to relax
- Rapid pulse or pounding, skipping, racing heart
- Nausea, chest pain or pressure
- Feeling a “lump in the throat”
- Dry mouth
- Feelings of dread, apprehension or losing control
- Trembling or shaking, sweating or chills
- Fainting or dizziness, feelings of detachment
- Thoughts of death
Why Do Anxiety Attacks Cause These Physical Symptoms
One of the most common reasons that anxiety attacks are such a frightening experience is because they cause physical symptoms that mimic more serious diseases. This causes many people to become incredibly fearful for their health, believing that there is no way something like anxiety can lead to such a physical response.
But anxiety causes a host of different physical reactions that can explain most of the anxiety symptoms, and the most common cause is hyperventilation.
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How Can You Help Or Support A Family Member Or Friend With Anxiety
Just ask what they need, when they may be anxious or having a panic attack, and when they arent in that state yet. Anxiety is such a misunderstood mental illness and terms get used incorrectly all the time. Its hard for people who dont suffer from it to understand its effects on the person experiencing it.
The best advice I can give to those who are anxiety sufferers is to be open and honest with the ones you love so they can understand you better. Once you figure out what works for you during these moments, share that with the people closest to you.
Could You Be Suffering From Panic Disorder
Take our 2-minute panic disorder test to see if you may benefit from further diagnosis and treatment.
During the day if she was out, the attack felt like my head suddenly weighed a thousand pounds and my chest would get really heavy. It literally felt like something was pulling me down. I would usually have to head home immediately. I would then experience foggy vision where itactually looked like there was fog in the air. I also experienced double vision and parts of my bodylike my neck or one arm or one entire side of my facewould go totally numb.
In addition to the emotional turmoil and the physical manifestations that Caroline and Kirstie describe panic attacks can cause palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate sweating trembling or shaking sensations of shortness of breath or smothering feelings of choking chest pain or discomfort nausea or abdominal distress feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed or faint chills or overheating numbness or tingling feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself fear of losing control or going crazy and fear of dying.
Isolated attacks are bad enough. But when the attacks recur in a short period of time or when the fear of another attack is so strong that you begin to avoid situations, places, and people that may trigger an attack, you may be diagnosed with panic disorder.
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