If you suffer from panic or anxiety attacks, you are not alone. They can be crippling. We feel helpless when they occur.
Anxiety disorders are actually the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
Panic disorders are diagnosed in people who experience spontaneous seemingly out-of-the-blue panic attacks and are very preoccupied with the fear of a recurring attack. Panic attacks occur unexpectedly, sometimes even when waking up from sleep. Panic disorder usually begins in adulthood-after the age of 20, but children can also experience panic disorder and many children experience panic-like feelings or symptoms
Panic disorders can take a toll on everyday life and interfere with a lot. Avoiding social situations, missing work and just staying alone in our bubble.
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 you’re having a panic attack, you may sweat a lot, have difficulty breathing and feel like your heart is racing. It may feel as if you’re having a heart attack.
Attacks occur suddenly and without warning. There’s no way to stop a panic attack after it starts.
Symptoms usually peak within 10 minutes after an attack starts. They disappear soon after.
Signs of a panic attack include:
- Chest pain
- Choking or smothering sensation
- Difficulty breathing/racing heart
- Fear of losing control
- Feeling like you’re going to die
- Intense feeling of terror
- Tingling or numbness in fingers or toes
- Trembling or shaking
- Try A Treatment Plan: Facing your fears can be difficult, but treatment can help you feel like you’re not a hostage in your own home.
- Breathing Techniques: When you feel an attack coming on, sit down, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. In and out while continuing. Repeat a self mantra in your head to clear any thoughts-one I personally use is “ I am ok”- I just repeat this in my head while focusing on the breathing.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, smoking and recreational drugs. All of these can trigger or worsen panic attacks.
- Use stress management and relaxation techniques: Yoga, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation — tensing one muscle at a time, and then completely releasing the tension until every muscle in the body is relaxed — also may be helpful.
- Physical Activity: Exercise and being active helps boost our mood. Even a short walk can help clear your head.
- Proper Sleep: Get enough sleep so that you don’t feel drowsy during the day.
- Medication: Your doctor may want to put you on medication if your attacks are severe. Be receptive to this.
If you ever feel your attacks becoming more frequent or worsening, be sure to speak with your doctor right away. Do not not need to suffer- take back control and remember, you are not alone.