On an almost monthly basis, I become overwhelmed with anxiety or encounter panic attacks. Mainly because I automatically bottle up all emotions until they reach a breaking point, often without realizing that I'm doing that in the first place. And these attacks can be crippling taking away complete focus or time away from other things I need to be doing like work, everyday life, or activities. And it's really hard to snap out of them and resume what I was doing previously.
I am by no means a subject matter expert in this area but I have learned quite a few things to help when these attacks come on. And just dealing with anxiety in general. Which I thought would be helpful to share.
But before we can go into how to cope with an anxiety or panic attack, you have to be able to recognize if they are happening. Symptoms for both are the same but are caused by different things. Anxiety attacks have a stressor while a panic attack does not. I personally have suffered from both.
- Surge of overwhelming panic
- Feeling of losing control or going crazy
- Heart palpitations or chest pain
- Feeling like you’re going to pass out
- Trouble breathing or choking sensation
- Hot flashes or chills
- Trembling or shaking
- Nausea or stomach cramps
- Feeling detached or unreal
Tips for Handling an Attack
These are things that I have found help me get through either an anxiety or panic attack. Just because they work for me doesn't mean they will work for everyone. Just like how I can go un-medicated for my bipolar disorder, doesn't mean that everyone else can and be able to function at the same level.
- Take long, deep breaths. Focusing on every breath you take both in and out, as that will help to calm down your already stressed out system. It also takes away your train of thought from the panic.
- Accept the attack. This doesn't seem natural at all. The first thing you want to do is end the attack by pure will power; however, that doesn't work. You have to accept the attack is happening and the symptoms are occurring. Then know that it will subside.
- Take Notes. From just what symptoms you're having to thoughts racing through your head. As this can help you get perspective over the attack. I learned this technique when I had severe depression, if I wrote out what I was thinking. I could better access from an analytical standpoint where there were flaws in my thought process. Using this same process it helps me get the panicked thoughts to subside because I gain some control over the situation.
- Get help. Whether from a trained medical professional or a close friend/family member, talking it out with someone else can help the attack end. As well as get you help in facing them in the future. Plus you'll feel comforted especially if they are calm when they are attempting to help you through the anxiety and panic.
And remember you are not alone, both anxiety and panic attacks are extremely common. They can be very terrifying, but will not kill you or cause you to faint. Don’t let your attacks ruin your confidence or life. There are tons of treatments and techniques, it's all about finding the ones that work for you.
Do you suffer from anxiety and panic attacks? What works best for you to help keep it under control? Or how do you handle an attack when it's happening?