A panic attack is a feeling of intense terror that can happen suddenly and without warning. You can experience a fear of dying with a strong urge to get help at the emergency room because it feels as if you’re going to have a heart attack or something is seriously wrong.
Not all panic attacks are the same but there are common symptoms. When a panic attack hits because of social anxiety, your heart is racing uncontrollably. You feel nauseous, sweating, dizzy, tingling and numbness in your hands, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, and feeling a complete loss of control with your mind and body.
Experiencing a panic attack feels dangerous and frightening, but there is no actual threat to your life. And though it’s uncomfortable, having strategies in place can help you handle it better. As an Anxiety Therapist at Care Therapy ONLINE I work with women to develop these strategies and in this blog post I will share some tips for overcoming a panic attack in social situations.
How to Handle a Panic Attack Related to General Anxiety Disorder
It’s important to know the difference between a panic attack or a medical emergency.
To do this, reflect and take note of what happened before, during, and after a panic attack. Learn to identify the common symptoms you experience because it will reassure you that it’s a panic attack and though unpleasant, it’s not going to hurt you. This is really useful to help to calm you down so it’s a bit easier to try and rationally talk to yourself.
Have a go-to narrative to pull from when you’re experiencing a panic attack.
You can think of this as an affirmation to keep you grounded. For instance, you can say, “I’m having a panic attack caused by anxiety. It’s not life-threatening and it will pass as it always does. I am safe and I can handle this.” Repeat this as much as you need during a panic attack.
Take charge of your breathing.
When you’re having a panic attack, breathing changes to quick or shallow breaths leading to other uncomfortable symptoms associated with panic like dizziness or tingling or numbness in your hands. Quick or shallow breathing sends a signal that you’re in danger. It triggers the fight-or-flight response and deep breathing helps to turn off your threat system. Try the 4-7-8 deep breathing technique by Dr. Weil. Here’s a video to learn how to do it.
Don’t try to avoid it or escape a place or situation, unless you are in a dangerous situation.
Avoidance or escaping will cause more panic and anxiety. The antidote to a panic attack is to take action, this is true for fears as well. When you don’t avoid it, you give yourself an opportunity to learn that nothing bad is going to happen. Take one small step by trying something new when a panic attack happens. For example, if your initial reaction is to make it go away, see if you can be with it and ride it out, or try one of the strategies l mentioned here.
Preventing Panic Attacks After You’ve Had One
There are different reasons why panic attacks occur. It can be related to health diseases or brain injury, chronic stress, certain medications or substance use, trauma or a stressful event such as losing a loved one or witnessing violence. When the brain perceives danger whether it’s real or imagined, the fight-or-flight response is activated releasing chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline to prepare your body to fight or run away from the threat. The changes in our brain occur very fast and panic attacks can happen out of nowhere.
Examine Areas of Your Life That need Attention
To help prevent panic attacks, take a look at areas of your life that need attention whether that’s emotional, physical, or mental health. For instance, chronic stress can cause an increase in stress chemicals making your body more likely to go into fight-or-flight mode. Do you notice ongoing stress with your job or relationships? If so, what are some changes or solutions that are in your control to help lower your stress? Maybe it’s making a change such as setting time boundaries with work or others to lower your stress. If it’s been over a year since your last health check-up. Getting labs completed will help inform you of any issues that could be contributing to panic attacks such as diabetes or thyroid issues. Or maybe, it’s seeking some help through therapy to process a trauma. Whatever the case, identifying some of the potential reasons will help prevent attacks.
Is it A Panic Disorder?
Ongoing panic attacks can affect your quality of life and interfere with your ability to do every day tasks such as leaving your home, avoiding crowded places, or constant fear of having another panic attack. If you’re experiencing recurring and unexpected panic attacks often, there are effective treatments to help you. These may include learning relaxation and stress management skills, working with a therapist to learn cognitive behavioral therapy to identify and change unhelpful thoughts and beliefs increasing your panic attacks, or making some modifications in your life with diet and exercise. If you’re not sure where to start, I offer a free 30-minute consultation call. You can schedule a free call here.
Sending hugs, Elle
Therapy for General Anxiety Disorder: When to Get Help
It’s natural and helpful to have negative thoughts from time to time. Negative thoughts help you to take action, pay attention to needs, and protect you from danger. But when you notice that your negative thoughts lead to overwhelming anxiety and make it hard to do day to day things, affect your sleep, or become too difficult to cope with. That’s a few signs you need some support and will benefit from getting help with a licensed therapist. If you’re still questioning whether or not therapy will help, book a free 30 minute consultation call with me by clicking here.
Sending positive thoughts,
Begin Therapy for General Anxiety Disorder in Orange County, CA Today
A panic attack can be scary and all consuming when it gets out of control. And it can make you feel like the world is crashing down around you. If you are caught in the vicious cycle of never ending anxiety that leads to panic attacks and can’t see your way out of it I am here to help. At Care Therapy I specialize in working with women who, like you, are overwhelmed with their anxiety. Together we can process those feelings and emotions. We will get you to a place where you can regain control of your life. You will not only survive, but thrive! If you are interested in starting Therapy for Anxiety, follow the steps below to begin your journey to healing.
Two: Reach out to me via email @firstname.lastname@example.org or call 949-441-CARE (2273)
Three: Begin the process of healing and recovery
Other Services Offered by Care Therapy ONLINE
In addition to Therapy for Social Anxiety I also work with women who are struggling with depression and women who are in the midst of kidney failure and dialysis. We work together to overcome the obstacles in your path that prevent you from living your best life and get you to a point where you find peace and comfort in your life.