Sometimes life becomes full of too many responsibilities and pressures that things can become very overwhelming. Whether it is the bills that are piling up, the kids who are misbehaving, bad news from the doctor or your marriage has become very difficult. Maybe you feel helpless, depressed or anxious? You might feel totally stressed out, like you want to pull all of your hair out or could hide under your pillow for a week! It is during these times that it is very helpful to talk to a good friend or family member. It is also a time to increase your faith by remembering to pray, to read the Bible and go to church. Faith is the single most effective way to overcome stress and anxiety when life seems to spin out of control.
If you are a person who is sensitive to anxiety, however, you may experience what is called a panic attack. Having a panic attack is very different from being stressed out! It is part of what is called “panic disorder.” Panic disorder can range from a mild anxiety attack or a major attack. These attacks can occur one time a year or up to several times a day! Panic Attacks generally peak in about 10 minutes and can last for several hours.
Did you know that panic attacks are the number one mental health problem for women? In fact panic or anxiety attacks affect twice as many women as men. Sometimes it just starts out of the blue for no apparent reason and can become problematic occurring at the least likely moment.
Panic attacks can be debilitating! The Anxiety takes a form of intense fear causes both psychological and physical symptoms.
Some examples are…
- Feeling of depersonalization (a feeling of watching oneself act, while having no control over a situation)
- Discomfort or pain in chest
- Feeling like you’re choking
- Feeling like you’re going crazy
- Nausea or abdominal discomfort
- Heart palpitations or racing heart
- Think you’re going to die
- Sense of impending doom
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath
- Sweating/hot flushes
- Tingling sensations/numbness
If you are experiencing Panic Attacks and feel out of control know that you are not alone, and there are ways to overcome them. Sometimes medication is helpful however it is not aways necessary. You can learn how to live a life free from fear and panic!
Here are some steps that will help you:
ONE Identify your fears. Panic attacks are all about Fear. The first step is to identify what is triggering your panic attacks. Identifying the fear is the most important step.
TWO Monitor your thoughts during a panic attack. Most people who experience panic attacks have triggers, thoughts that cause their body to go into panic. A panic attack triggers the fight or flight response in a human being causing all sorts of uncomfortable sensations. Rapid Heart beat, light-headedness, changes in vision, etc. These are all perfectly normal, and they have no harmful effects on your health. You cannot, and will not die. You must identify the thoughts. Pay attention to your thought process, most people have a fearful thought, then it triggers a ‘sensation’ in the body, you then pay attention to that sensation, and more fearful thoughts arise, it is a big cycle, and goes in a circle until you are into a full blown panic attack.
THREE Once these thoughts are identified, use cognitive feedback. Face your fears, tell yourself positive things, what is the worst that could happen? One of the major contributors to panic attacks is blowing things out of proportion. Tell yourself that you are in control of your own mind and body, understand the sensations are normal that you are feeling, and don’t fear them. If you don’t fear them, they will not continue to exist. Stop these thoughts before they trigger these sensations and lead into a panic attack. It takes much practice, but you can prevent Panic Attacks. You must face all your fears until they become mundane, and do not bother you any more. Fear is based upon some illogical thoughts and usually highly unfounded. Of course there are many things to fear, but not the extent that you do. Also, do not try to suppress your scary thoughts, that will not help. Instead, let them come into your mind, don’t deny them, then deal with them appropriately. Use reasoning techniques to battle these thoughts and take control back.
FOUR And last, do not fear panic attacks themselves. They are harmless, no matter how terrible you feel, they will not harm you in any form. You are still in control even when you are having them. Do your best to keep this in your mind, no matter how uncomfortable you feel during one, there is absolutely no harm coming your way. You will be okay, and it will pass. Practice the above techniques until you have regained control of your own mind’s peace. It takes practice, but you will overcome them.
Panic attacks are only a symptom of panic disorder. Many people have panic attacks, but may not necessarily have panic disorder. There are many different types of anxiety disorders of which panic attacks may be a symptom. Therefore knowing the symptoms of a panic attack is not enough. If you are experiencing some of these symptoms get a professional diagnosis. At Crossroads Counseling Center we treat panic Disorder and can help you overcome your anxiety.