Last Updated: 15 April 2014
First of all, what is a panic attack? A panic attack is the feeling that often mimics the symptoms of a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. Panic attracts happen abruptly and disappears very quickly. These episodes can typically reach a peak of 10 minutes and generally end after half an hour. First time suffers often call for emergency services. For those that have experienced a panic attack, it is a very frightening experience to say the least. Anxiety disorders are an abnormal and pathological fear which many patients are treated by counseling, psychiatric diagnosis and prescription drugs. There are eight general anxiety disorders, panic attacks are one of them.
In many cases anxiety treatment can be handled through cognitive and behavioral specialist sessions and/or self treatment without the use of drugs. By identifying the anxiety stimulus with related disorder symptoms a treatment plan can be applied to alleviate, or remove the cause of your anxiety. It is first recommended you identify your type of symptoms and anxiety disorder through the help of an anxiety specialist if you experience acute to chronic ill-health physical or mental anxiety anguish.
Listed below are the 8 general anxiety disorders
1) General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – This disorder typically affects adults and can occur daily without fixation on one thing. Anxiety is random and specific cause is not very apparent or apparent at all.
2) Panic Disorder (panic attack) is brought upon by intense terror and apprehension. Symptoms: Trembling, shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, etc.
3) Agoraphobia – This is an anxiety attack brought upon by a fearful stimulus or situation of open space with nowhere to hide, e.g, airport, malls, outdoors and is associated with panic attack symptoms. Approximately 3.2 million adults in the US between the ages of 18-54 suffer from this disorder.
4) Social anxiety disorder – This fear is associated with feelings of embarrassment, blushing, sweating through social encounter and public speaking.
5) OCD (Obsessive-compulsive disorder) – Repetitive obsessions that drive one to perform specific acts or rituals. For example, rituals to remove feelings of impeding harm, or infection to the individual, i.e., constant washing of hands for fear of catching germs, or walking in certain patterns the same way every day to get from point a to b.
6) PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) – PTSD disorder is the result of a traumatic experience. For example a soldier returning back from war, rape, or one that was in a bad car accident. For these individuals flashbacks, anger and avoidant behaviors, anxiety and depression are common.
7) Separation anxiety –This is when an individual is separated from a place or person which results in anxiety symptoms. Child hood cases tend to be more severe than in adults.
8) Childhood Anxiety Disorder – Many children as well as adults feel anxious, worried and fearful with new experiences. Children’s decision-making ability and perceptions, learning and concentration suffer. Symptoms include: Attention deficit, eating, sleeping and depression disorders. Children with parents who suffer similar anxiety reactions to stress most likely will carry this trait.
Common Symptoms, Those that Suffer from Anxiety disorders
Common symptoms include: Eating and sleeping disorders, depression, anger, isolation and fear. Physical symptoms: Irregular heart rate, trembling, shaking, inadequate breathing or hyperventilation, chest pain; a feeling of going crazy, or losing control, feeling like you’re going to pass out, stomach pain, nausea, feeling hot or cold, etc. If you have frequent bouts of any of these types of symptoms you may suffer from an anxiety disorder. If you suffer from these symptoms and are creating more anxiety see your primary care physician for referral to an anxiety specialist. Any time one feels out of sorts, overly anxious, or a feeling of “loss of control” it is prudent to seek medical guidance from your primary care physician.
How to alleviate your levels of anxiety,
1. Identify and remove yourself from fearful, stressful, uncomfortable situations where physical or emotional symptoms of discomfort are felt.
2. Do you have emotional support to discuss stressful or anxious situations? Emotional support whether a good friend or professional is important in helping to identify what brings on the feelings of anxiety. Also, to have someone you can confide in provides a level of comfort that will reduce anxiety and help target, or identify potential situations, behavior, or habit that may be creating the anxiety.
3. Are you able to plan for vacations, take off days to relax, work a hobby, read a good book or exercise? Finding quite time to relax, meditate, or participate in self interest activities that provides the necessary time to unwind provides peace of mind. This quality time allows one to reflect in a positive environment to focus; process and reflect on what’s important in life. And when this time is made available, many times generates solutions to alleviate anxiety conditions in a way that does not occur otherwise.
4. Do you have help when you feel over loaded with too much work? If not, you must make time to discuss work overload and the worry associated and leading to daily anxiety. If work overload issues are creating a situation that is unhealthy it is necessary to discuss these issues with your supervisor, manager, significant other, therapist or HR representative. If you don’t, your health will most likely take a turn for the worst, which is not good for you, your family, or employer.
5. If you do not take care of your body it can impact brain function. And when this occurs, for many the psychosomatic (mind/body: body/mind) relationship can experience anxiety symptomatic of panic attacks. If mood is depressed due to extended physically stressful environment for example; depression can become chronic. And with chronic depression, the mind also connects the body (biologically) to become depressed and anxious simultaneously. Continued on this path for too long and untreated is a pathological gateway to other forms of illness and disease.
6. Habits/behaviors – It should also be noted if you consume alcohol, caffeine, smoke cigarettes, use certain types of drugs: Over-the-counter medications, prescriptions or recreational drugs may contribute and compound your anxiety and depression disorder(s) and weight gain. Also negative behavioral social patterns coupled with bad habits place many in unhealthy and uncomfortable environments where fear, guilt and social confrontations is part of the anxiety mix. These types of experiences can cause and contribute to more anxiety as opposed to alleviating the anxiety. Talk with your doctor about use of any of these vices, or current prescriptions to see if one, or in combination with something else you consume may be a contributing trigger mechanism to your anxiety.
7. If your levels of fear and distress are severe see your doctor. Your doctor may then provide further treatment using a combination of consulting, prescription drugs with further follow up by a therapist that is specialized in anxiety disorders to devise a course of treatment. Or a treatment program that does not use drugs, or partial use of drug intervention.
Specialized Types of Anxiety Treatment
Cognitive-behavioral therapy – This therapy focuses on thought, or cognitions in addition to behaviors. Both therapies are effective anxiety treatments. Behavioral change is the focus as opposed to psychological issues from the past. Takes between 5-20 sessions.
Exposure therapy – You confront your fears in a safe, controlled environment. As you face your fear without being harmed your anxiety gradually dissipates.
Exercise at least 30 minutes a day five times a week for anxiety relief. Aerobic activity is the best form of exercise to reduce stress and is also good for your heart and weight loss goals. Walking at a brisk pace is the best low intensity-impact aerobics activity for physical and mental stress anxiety alleviation. Walking in general is good for your overall fit-healthy goals to include weight loss, better sleep at night and anxiety and stress relief.
Hypnosis – While you’re in a state of deep relaxation cognitive-behavioral therapy is also a part of the treatment. During the session the therapist helps you face your fears. Facing fears in new and different ways proves to alleviate anxiety problems for many patients in a deep relaxed state of mind-body.
Relaxation techniques teach one to relax muscles and mental faculties while focusing positive energy to all parts of the mind-body. This is possible because of progressive mindful relaxation controlled breathing and visualization exercises/techniques. These sessions provide a feeling of relaxed emotional well-being.
Biofeedback teaches the conscious mind to recognize the bodies anxiety response through sensors that monitor heart rate, breathing and muscle tension. These sensory impulse readings then teach awareness of biofeedback casual relationships affecting the anxious mind-body. This then teaches one to control internal biofeedback to produce a calming effect which equates to reduced internal body anxiety.
Eat healthy by learning about quality nutritious foods (better known as Super Foods). Understand that a healthy mind-body is dependent on the nutrients you consume. Healthy food choices equate to less stress and anxiety and healthier mind and fit body. Foods high in super food nutrients provide us with a calming whole body effect.
How to Find an Anxiety Therapist
- Call the national alliance on Mental Illness at 1-800-950-6264.
- Ask a doctor or nurse for anxiety disorder referrals.
- Search on-line under specific type of anxiety disorder listed above, or general anxiety websites for your particular condition.
- Check your local library and research books listed under anxiety for check out.
- Contact your local university psychology department for local support, group programs, university funded programs, etc.
Self -Help and Other Treatment Support Recommendations
If you are living a stressful lifestyle that creates anxiety, you must find innovative ways to make time for yourself, or remove yourself from anxious events, or situations. Much stress and worry can lead to anxiety symptoms with feelings associated of panic attacks. If certain persons, places or things cause you to worry, create undue stress and unbearable anxiety and depression, you must find ways to change your environmental situation.
The most natural way to self treat for anxiety is to identify the cause of feeling bad, then remove the cause/situation(s) that are creating the stressful anxiety response. I know, easier said than done. If you can not resolve this on your own, you must seek professional treatment. If there are certain habits, or behaviors causing anxiety, stress and depression you can learn to control the environmental causes that now put your good health at risk.
Through this understanding anyone can learn to modify, or remove internal and external stress triggers by learning what causes them. Then remove those triggers from your lifestyle.
It appears individuals can learn to change habits and behaviors through a natural process of removing an identified anxiety-stress stimulus. Once the anxiety or stress trigger mechanism has been removed; anxiety and depression symptoms may be alleviated for many and go away never to return.
The mind is a powerful self-healing agent. If you have strong desire, faith and the tools necessary to change your stress-anxiety situation you can become more fit-healthy. But you have to be willing to get treatment once you recognize you can’t resolve your anxiety, stress and panic attacks on your own.
To do any less would be to live in unnecessary pain that need not be!
On-Line Referenced Links:
Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2010 Copyright, All rights reserved. Mirror Athlete Enterprises Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your free eNewsletter.