Working through a Panic Attack

Difference between a panic and an anxiety attack

Panic and anxiety attacks can feel similar, and they share a lot of symptoms, but they are different conditions.

PANIC ATTACK:

Comes on suddenly & accompanied by intense fear. The panic attack is often more disruptive than the anxiety attack. They can be caused by a trigger or external stressor or have no obvious cause.

ANXIETY ATTACK:

Comes on gradually and typically related to something that’s perceived as stressful or threatening. It can be mild to severe and occur while normal everyday activities continue. Usually related to a trigger or the anticipation of a stressful situation, experience, or event.

Here are some symptoms you can look for:

WHAT TO DO?

So, if you’re having an attack, whether panic or anxiety, there are some steps you can take to work through them.

Acknowledge. Tell yourself what is happening and that the symptoms are totally normal and will pass.

Stay where you are. Try not to move or go somewhere new.

Don’t Fight. Actively fighting the panic attack/trying to stop it will make it worse.

Breathe. Slow, deep breaths. It can feel impossible to breathe so be sure to focus your attention on each inhale and exhale.

Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a technique that can help you ground your thoughts in the present. You can do this by actively noticing thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judging or reacting to them.

Try Grounding. This takes practice, so try to find what works best for you. Grounding can include grabbing something close to you and finding as many ways to explain how it feels and the texture as possible. Another way is the 54321 sense system. Find 5 things you can see, 4 you can hear, 3 you can touch, 2 you can smell, and 1 you can taste. Try saying it all out loud if possible. Also, try taking your shoes off and feeling the floor or ground under your feet.

Use Relaxation Techniques. These include guided imagery, aromatherapy, muscle relaxation, or anything that you find relaxing. Close your eyes, take a bath, or use lavender, which has relaxing effects.

Home Remedies/Lifestyle Change

Taking these steps can help prevent anxiety and panic attacks and/or reduce the severity of symptoms when one does occur.

  • Maintain a positive attitude
  • Manage or reduce stressors
  • Discover the triggers
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Eat healthful and balanced meals
  • Sleep for 8 hours a night
  • Exercise every day
  • Take time out each day for enjoyable activities
  • Practice meditation, yoga, or deep breathing
  • Build a support network

Medical Treatments

Therapy
Engaging in therapy can help to identify triggers and manage symptoms. Therapy also aims to help people to accept their pasts and work toward their futures.

Medication
Medication can reduce symptoms in people with severe or recurrent panic or anxiety. It can be used in conjunction with therapy or as a stand-alone treatment.

ALWAYS REMEMBER, Anyone can get panic or anxiety attacks. You are not crazy. What you’re going through is natural. It will pass. Expecting more of yourself, or holding yourself to a higher standard, can increase your risk. Having a panic or anxiety attack does not make you weak.

Try resting after the attack, it probably zapped your energy. This is a serious condition. You are not being overdramatic. Be patient with yourself.

If you know someone who suffers from panic or anxiety attacks (chances are, you do) then there are a few things to remember and keep in mind…

They are not seeking attention.

They can’t just “shut it off” and telling them to “just get over it” will probably make it worse.

Try to understand them. Research more if you can. Learn their triggers.

After an attack, their energy will be depleted. Let them get rest and suggest it if they don’t themselves.

They may not be able to communicate their thoughts to feelings.

Try working them through it by breathing and grounding WITH them.

Be patient.

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