Panic attacks basics: a self-help guide for those in a tight spot and those who want to help
I fear of having another panic attack paralyzing you to the point where it affects your life as much as having one after another? Here is what you need to know to fight back.
If you are familiar with the razzle-dazzle of anticipating another panic attack, then you˙ve probably done some soul searching looking for ways to take your life back. You might be wondering as to where have you gone off the track, what are you doing wrong, how can you prevent them from recurring, and mostly, why is this happening to you. Naturally, I do not have your answers, but I am here to tell you that you will find them, as elusive as they might appear. I have walked this road before you, and am still here though walking brave as I share here, and I want you to know that it gets way better, but you have to do the work.
After my second panic attack, the back of my mind was constantly trying to perceive things which might trigger a new one, while my conscious was determined to control my thought process, the circumstances and surroundings, working on an ˝escape plan˝ for any given situation at the same time. If you know the feeling then you probably also know that it is called a panic disorder, or anticipatory anxiety. For me, it was almost worse than panic attacks themselves, as it left me no time to rest and regroup. My mind was relentless, just went on and on about it, building up fear and anxiety. It was like there is nothing left of my life, just counting days, hours, minutes, and seconds before it might hit me again. I was under a spell with a heavy cloud hanging above my head.
I want you to know that it gets way better, but you have to do the work.
Grow understanding through education
It lasted for months, years probably. Even if you have only experienced one or two severe panic attacks you may begin to fear having another one to the point where it affects your life as much as actually having regular attacks. Yes, that happens too. People can have up to 15, maybe 20 attacks a day, or more. I choke by that very idea, poor souls.
Though many experience anxiety at some point, panic attacks, panic disorder, and anticipatory anxiety are manifestations not to be taken lightly. I would always roll my eyes when hearing someone say something like – well I am anxious too, but I don˙t make a big deal out if. Grhhh, as if we have a choice… Who hasn˙t had a panic attack will have trouble relating and understanding, so try not to hold it against your loved ones if they are not as sensitive as you would have them be. You are changing and people are most likely feeling weird around you as they don’t know the inside of your head anymore and how to properly react. You will probably hear phrases such as- ˝It˙s all inside your head, just snap out of it˝, or -˝You should just go out more, do some jogging, get that endorphin running through your blood˝, more then you would like to.
Though fresh air, walks, and exercise are beneficial and recommended, they will not make your problem go away, and you know it – that˙s why you resent such remarks. It is important that you educate yourself about your condition and then educate your family too, for proper support does wonder in terms of recovery. To start on that you may read the ˝Overcoming panic and agoraphobia˝ book, written by a clinical psychiatrist Deric Silove and a clinical psychologist Vijaya Manicavasagar, I reviewed for you here, and which was the first step towards my own recovery.
Confiding your self, reducing your experiences and social interaction will in time start to manifest as depression.
Don’t delay seeking help
When looking from the outside, panic disorder and anticipatory anxiety resemble depression. You can think of much else then your next attack so you become obsessed with trying to stay on top of things. Soon you stop talking all together not to bother those around you and start drifting away. Since panic attacks are often triggered by stressors in public places, you start to avoid them and no longer go to the movies, concerts, restaurants, shopping malls… You most likely stop driving your car too, or pretty much-doing anything you˙ve have been known to do outside your home. I was able to go to work, though, but many arn˙t. And confiding your self like that, reducing your experiences and social interaction will in time start to manifest as depression.
In my experience best you can do, should it come this far is to seek medical help. That˙s what I did and it gave me strength and clarity to fight back. It is said to be easier to battle anxiety than depression should you allow it to settle, so make that first step towards recovery as soon as possible and give yourself a chance to heal. Healing will begin with you asking for help. Preferably a licensed therapist, or someone close and/or trustworthy who is willing to support you. Reach out and fight back. It will not happen without your honest effort and faith in that very possibility. Turn every stone, if that˙s what it takes, but leave no option unexplored until you have your answers.
It is important that you educate yourself about your condition, as well as your family, for proper support does wonder in terms of recovery.
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