Panic attacks are a manifestation of anxiety at its most extreme. Although few people are affected by panic attacks, they are a growing problem in society. Panic attacks and the fear we associate with them can be treated with professional help.
This article should be seen as an introduction to some facts about panic attacks and not seen as clinical guidance on treating them. If you suffer chronically from panic attacks, you should see your doctor or other health professional to discuss your strategy. Remember though Panic attacks are extremely unpleasant but not dangerous. The best tactic is to try to head it off when you feel yourself starting to panic.
It is important to be aware that symptoms such as a racing heart beat, or shortness of breath, will not actually lead to you having a heart attack. Although frightening, a panic attack will not cause you any physical harm. People who have had panic disorder for some time will usually learn to recognise this 'heart attack sensation', and will be more aware of how to control their symptoms.
People with panic disorder have panic attacks on a recurring basis. Some people with the condition have panic attacks once or twice a month, while others have attacks several times a week.
People with panic disorder also tend to have ongoing and constant feelings of worry and anxiety. Because panic attacks can be very unpredictable, if you have panic disorder, you may feel stressed and worried about when your next attack will be.
Remember that extreme thinking results in extreme reactions. Mislabelling an event is the easiest way to induce anxiety.
A problem sufferers of anxiety have is the low regard that society at large places it on the spectrum of mental health. Few non sufferers fully understand the life changing consequences of persistent anxiety. This can exacerbate the stress and lead to the individual coping badly with stress,
Life can be stressful. When we are stressed it is difficult to enjoy ourselves, but this is exactly what we need to do to get fun out of life. The problem though is that stress in unavoidable.
We encounter stress in all areas of our personal and working lives. However, this is not the problem ; the real problem is in how we deal with stress. That way we stand a good chance of nipping panic attacks in the bud.
So what are the most effective treatments available for panic disorder. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is thought to be one of the most effective forms of treatment for panic disorder. CBT is a psychological form of treatment, and will involve you having weekly sessions where you talk to a therapist.
For example, they may talk to you about the way you react when you have a panic attack, and what you think about when you are experiencing an attack.
Once you and your therapist have identified negative thoughts and beliefs, you can work on replacing them with more realistic and balanced ones. Your therapist can also teach you ways that you can change your behaviour, which should make it easier for you to deal with future panic attacks. For example, they may be able to show you breathing techniques which can be used to help keep you calm during the stress of a panic attack.
So we can see that one of the best ways to deal with having panic attacks is to accept them as ‘normal’. Getting wound up over having extreme anxiety will only make things worse for you.
Don't expect to change overnight. Changing ingrained ways of behaving can take time; go slowly and pace yourself. Make yourself feel as secure as possible when you begin. For example, don't start off by trying to show emotion at work - choose an environment when you feel safe with people you trust. Gently allow yourself to test out your emotions.
Challenge your beliefs about the bad things that might happen if you show your emotions. Start by arguing with yourself about what you think might happen - ask yourself if it's really true, whether it could really happen, and whether there are any other possible outcomes.
When you feel ready, test out changing your behaviour and see what really happens. Analyse this honestly and be guided by it. With time, move yourself on, test yourself more and more. This will lessen your fears and help you make progress.
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