Support for anxiety and panic attacks

Panic attacks are feelings of sudden anxiety that can be very intense leading to a range of physical symptoms including sweating, shaking, rapid and irregular heartbeats, nausea, disorientation, dizziness and dry mouth they can be very scary and many people fear that it is a sign of something worse such as a heart attack; this can create a cycle of anxiety for the sufferer.

The truth is panic attacks are not life-threatening, but they can be very frightening.

Managing Panic Attacks

Learning to understand and manage your anxiety and eventually preventing panic attacks is possible; the first step is realising that they will pass. Ride out the panic attack without trying to distract yourself-facing your fear will make it go away sooner. Learning to relax more and identify things that provoke your anxiety can have a massive impact on reducing panic attacks and even preventing them from happening.

Professor Paul Salkovskis, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Bath, says it’s important not to let the fear of panic attacks control you. “Tell yourself that the symptoms you’re experiencing are caused by anxiety,” he says.

By facing your fear you are giving yourself the chance to realise that nothing bad is going to happen; the anxiety will begin to pass, and as it does, begin to ground yourself by focusing on your surroundings and carrying on with whatever it was you were doing before the attack.

It’s The Thought That Counts

Recognising the unhelpful thoughts that create anxiety is a great way to reduce symptoms and prevent attacks; learning to identify when you are ruminating on worrying thoughts can mean that you can begin to change the way you think and eliminate unhelpful, anxiety-provoking thoughts – some people need extra help from a therapist who may use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (like me) to help identify and challenge these negative thoughts and offer strategies to cope in the future, helping you become your own therapist.

Some Strategies

Panic attacks can last between five minutes to half an hour. Some people may have a sudden panic attack every now and then, and others have several per day. Taking control of your breathing is very useful as it helps you to focus on something that you can control and helps to remove some of the symptoms of panic which keep it going, i.e. increased oxygen to the brain causes dizziness and tingling; you may be “over breathing” when you panic due to feeling that you can’t breathe and therefore begin to overcompensate.

Breathe in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can through your nose.

Breathe out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth.

Some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five on each in-breath and each out-breath.

Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.

You should start to feel better in a few minutes. You may feel tired afterwards.

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Recognising things that may be stressful to you such as an increased workload, family problems, other health problems can help. Eat regularly to stabilise your blood sugar levels, avoid alcohol, caffeine and smoking as these can make panic symptoms worse (despite what you believe about smoking “calming me down” and exercise.)

If you would like to overcome your anxiety and panic contact us today.

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