A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms. There are many misconceptions about what panic attacks look and feel like. Understanding panic attacks and learning how best to support. Don't panic. That's a phrase we hear countless times in a day. Why? Because when panic attacks—when we experience an intense sensation.
Are Panic Attacks? What
This step will buy you a little time to regain those abilities before you take any action. When you react before you have a chance to think straight, what do you do? If you're like most people, you probably flee, or struggle. You do things that actually make it worse. This is what people mean when they say things like "I know I'm doing it to myself" and the harder I try, the worse it gets.
So, even though you have a powerful urge to leave, postpone that decision for a little bit. Don't tell yourself you CAN'T leave - keep that option open so you don't feel trapped - but put off the decision about whether or not to leave. Stay in the situation. You don't need to run away to get relief. Let relief come to you. Use the occasion to observe how the panic works, and how you respond to it.
The best way to do this is to fill out a panic diary. The diary is a questionnaire which helps you notice important aspects of a panic attack, so you can respond more effectively over time. Feel free to download and reproduce it for your own personal use. You can also download a set of instructions. My patients often report that just filling out a diary helps them to calm down. How does this work? It's not that they're distracted from the subject of panic, because the diary questions are all about panic.
It helps you get a little distance from your emotions. It works because, while you complete a diary, you're in the role of an observer, rather than feeling like a victim. The best way to use the diary is to fill it out during the attack, rather than after.
If you're in a situation where writing is impractical, perhaps while driving a car, you can: If you're in a more active role - driving a car or giving a presentation - then you also need to attend to the "Work" of conducting that activity. How does that compare to what you usually do during a panic attack? At this point, you've already gone through the two most important steps to overcoming panic attacks.
These steps, and all the steps necessary to overcome panic disorder and phobia, are covered in much more detail in my Panic Attacks Workbook. It's not your job to bring the panic attack to an end; that will happen no matter what you do. Don't take my word for it. Review your personal history with panic attacks. Have you ever had one that didn't end? The fact is, every panic attack ends no matter what you do.
If you respond in the most cogent way possible, and do a good job at bringing it in for a soft landing, that panic attack will end. And if you do everything the most unhelpful way possible - struggling and resisting and fleeing in ways that make the panic worse - that one will end also.
Even the first panic attack a person has, when they have the least idea of what's happening, those end as well. The end of a panic attack is a part of a panic attack, just as much as the start of one is a part of it. It's not something you need to supply or make happen. The panic attack will end no matter what you do. Even when you don't believe it will end, when you have the fearful thoughts that it will last forever, it still ends.
So what is your job during a panic attack? It's a more modest task than you probably supposed. Your job is to see if you can make yourself a little more comfortable while you wait for the attack to end. And if you can't even make yourself a little more comfortable, then your job is just to wait for it to end.
Here are a few techniques that my patients have found particularly useful while waiting for an attack to end. Regardless of what else you do, do belly breathing. It's also known as diaphragmatic breathing, but I think "belly breathing" is more descriptive. Many people think they know how to do deep breathing, but don't do it correctly, so they don't get good results. A good belly breathing technique is a very powerful tool in the work of overcoming panic attacks!
Talk to yourself silently! One question my patients find very helpful is this: Some of the other responses my patients like include the following:.
Answer your "what if? I'll get afraid, then calm down again. People don't panic in the present. People panic when they imagine something bad happening to them in the future or in the past. This is why your panic attacks are almost always accompanied by some "what if?
The reason you say "what if? Get back into the activity you were engaged in prior to the attack, and become involved with the people and objects around you. If you're in a store, resume shopping, reading labels, comparing prices, asking questions, etc.
It will move you closer to your goal of overcoming panic attacks when you bring your focus and energy back to the present environment. By this I mean, work with what is around you. Identify, and relax, the parts of your body that get most tense during a panic attack. This typically involves first tensing, and then relaxing, the muscles of your jaw, neck, shoulders, back and legs.
Do not allow yourself to stand rigid, muscles tensed, and holding your breath. That just makes you feel worse! If you feel like you "can't move a muscle", start with just one finger! That's "Actions to make myself more comfortable ". How does that compare with what you usually do during a panic attack? This step is here because you might start feeling better, then feel another wave of panic.
Your first reaction might then be to think "Oh No, it didn't work! The Repeat step is here to remind you that it's OK if that happens. With medication, you or a loved one with anxiety issues can ease off some of the symptoms.
While they can be helpful, anti-anxiety drugs are known to have side effects and safety concerns. Doctor sometimes prescribe antidepressants to address the issue of recurring panic attacks, although these drugs take a couple of weeks to take effect. Alternately, you may be prescribed benzodiazepines. These drugs can bring quick results and may provide a speedy recovery from ongoing panic attacks.
In an article by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it is stated that anti-anxiety drugs have been found to have adverse effects. Common side effects of antidepressants include weight gain, upset stomach, nausea, sexual dysfunction, sleepiness, headaches and more. Benzodiazepines can cause over-sedation and lead to addiction. Despite the absence of significant side effects, benzodiazepines are known to be highly addictive and have major withdrawal symptoms.
Antidepressants also have dependence and withdrawal issues. When you suddenly stop taking the latter, for instance, you may undergo extreme depression and exhaustion. Symptoms similar to the flu may also be apparent. Medications used to treat anxiety are proven to be safe when taken alone. Large doses also rarely pose any complications. Certain groups of people, such as the elderly and pregnant women, are also prone to serious side effects.
People with anxiety disorders are also found to be depressed quite often. As statistical studies have indicated, almost 50 percent of people who have been diagnosed with depression are also afflicted by anxiety disorder. Fortunately, both problems can be addressed either separately or together.
On a related note, panic or anxiety is also known to be an underlying cause of certain addictions that are observed in people.
Both issues — the panic disorder and the addiction issue — must be treated simultaneously to increase the chances of long-term recovery. You should be aware that in certain situations panic attacks may be unavoidable. A healthy combination of daily exercise and a balanced diet helps lessen the likelihood of a panic attack. Avoiding caffeinated beverages and taking herbal remedies may also help reduce stress and decrease the symptoms. It is important to find help on treating panic disorder for you or your loved one.
Recovering from panic disorder is difficult, if not impossible, without outside help. You can call us at to discuss panic disorder treatment options. In the meantime, you can start by creating an action plan to alleviate your anxiety, fear and panic attacks.
Nearly 2 percent of Americans, or roughly 3 million people, may suffer from a panic disorder at some point in their lives, according to MedicineNet.
If you or someone you love suffers from a panic disorder, you may already know that this type of disorder is slightly different from other anxiety disorders. Those who have panic disorders usually suffer from sudden panic attacks that occur with little warning for almost no reason at all. For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the PsychGuides. Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment.
An American Addiction Centers Resource. Panic Disorder Symptoms, Causes and Effects If you are suddenly experiencing an episode of intense anxiety and fear that sets off physical reactions with no apparent reason, you have an episode called a panic attack.
What Are the Types of Panic Disorders? Panic Disorder Characterized by Anxiety or Panic Attacks Fear and worry are the two chief characteristics of panic disorder. Generalized Anxiety Disorder GAD When you are disturbed by bad things but the chances of them actually happening are very slim, you may have generalized anxiety disorder. Phobias The fearing of specific objects, activities and scenarios to an exaggerated degree are phobias.
Social Anxiety Disorder Also called social phobia, social anxiety disorder is characterized by the extreme fear of getting a bad reputation. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD Traumatic events such as near-death experiences or participation in a war may cause people to feel sad, frightened and detached from other people.
What Are the Signs of a Panic Disorder? Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety and Panic Attacks Suffering from repeated panic attacks certainly affects the emotional health of an individual. Besides inexplicable fear and anxiety, common emotional symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks include the following: Inability to focus Failure to relax Expecting danger Absentmindedness Getting easily annoyed Feelings of tension Physical Symptoms of Anxiety and Panic Attacks Anxiety and panic attacks also have physical manifestations.
The symptoms that people experience include the following: Anti-Anxiety Drug Options With medication, you or a loved one with anxiety issues can ease off some of the symptoms. Possible Options Doctor sometimes prescribe antidepressants to address the issue of recurring panic attacks, although these drugs take a couple of weeks to take effect.
Medication Side Effects In an article by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it is stated that anti-anxiety drugs have been found to have adverse effects.
What are panic attacks?
Overview. A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent. If you've ever experienced a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear then you're familiar with the feeling of having a panic attack. Explains anxiety and panic attacks, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance.