Panic Disorder can be an incredibly uncomfortable experience of anxiety and fear. This disorder includes symptoms of short, sudden, and unexpected periods of intense anxiety, known as panic attacks. Unlike other illnesses where symptoms are relatively consistent, the anxiety and fear of a panic attack can come out of nowhere, without warning. And what’s makes a panic attack worse is the fear that most people have about having another panic attack unexpectedly.
There are a handful of anxiety disorders (including post traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder), each with their own symptoms, but all involving anxiety. With Panic Disorder, a person may experience shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, sudden overwhelm of worry and fear, trembling, sweating, and intense fear during a panic attack. Because these experiences can be intense and even debilitating, getting in the way of one’s life, it might be easy for someone to turn to alcohol, marijuana, or other substances as a means to cope. However, the use of substances in order to feel better or numb the fear is not the answer.
In fact, even though panic attacks might feel unbearable, they are manageable – even without the use of drugs and alcohol. Instead of using unhealthy tools to bear with the anxiety and fear, there are many healthy coping tools to choose from. The trick is practicing those healthy coping tools again and again. In fact, the real trick is practicing them right in the middle of having an attack.
Another challenging experience of Panic Disorder is the period leading up to an attack. As already mentioned, this too is a challenging period of time. This is precisely why a practice of relaxation on a daily basis can slowly help someone calm down and perhaps even eventually prevent the attacks from coming on at all. With this in mind, here are two ways to manage the challenging symptoms of Panic Disorder – without the use of drugs and alcohol:
Make a list of coping tools to use and carry it with you. When you’re in the middle of an attack, or if you feel one coming on, you may not be able to think of what to do. However, you can pull out your list of tools to use right in the moment. For instance, you might practice meditation, yoga, or deep breathing when you feel an impending attack. Or you might change your thoughts. It is commonly the case that a thought or a thinking pattern initiates an attack.
Look for any patterns in your panic attacks. Become familiar with the thoughts, circumstances, and events that are taking place when an attack feels imminent. Knowing this can give you the opportunity to pull out the list of coping tools you made and use one of those tools. You might notice that it is something in your environment that may have caused the attack. Perhaps it was a person, a color, or even a scent that triggered the anxiety. And you can also look for triggers of your anxiety between attacks by trying to identify what set the anxiety off.
This article will continue with the most vital step to take when faced with Panic Disorder – get mental health treatment. If you’re using drugs and alcohol to help manage the fear and anxiety, try the above techniques and look for the next article too! It will discuss Panic Disorder treatment.
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