Panic attacks in whatever form they come, can be terrifying and devastating. They can hit us out of the blue when we least expect it and paralyse us. Characterised often by a pounding heart, nausea, dizziness, disassociation and breathlessness, panic attacks can make us believe something terrible is happening to us and we may even feel that we are dying.
Panic disorder and social anxiety disorder exist along the same spectrum and share a common denominator, fear. Attempts to avoid and resist these conditions, may only serve to fuel them; facing up to what is happening and why it is happening, is the first step to freeing ourselves from panic attacks.
I work directively with these disorders and will help you to identify the source and triggers for your attacks/anxiety whilst also working with you to manage the anxiety on a daily basis. Our aim will be to gradually reduce the frequency and intensity of your attacks until you are in a place where you feel able to cope.
Some practical tips for dealing with a panic attack are:
When you are experiencing an attack, it is extremely important to breathe properly. This may seem impossible whilst in the throes of a panic attack but will really help to bring the episode to a swift end. When I say breathing properly, this means breathing from your stomach and not your chest and taking short breaths in and long breaths out. So often we breath from our chest which is not the natural way to breathe and can result in shallow breaths which may also lead to hyperventilation.
Visualisation is also a powerful tool. Using your imagination to take you out of the moment of panic and to a place of calm and serenity. Use music or a good book to help you if you need to.
Use rational thinking to bring yourself down from the runaway thoughts of panic in your head. "what is the worst that can happen?" "where is the evidence to say I am going to die?"
Instead of dwelling on "what if" statements, begin the sentence with "so"......."so what if I have a panic attack?" "so what if I forget what to say in this meeting?"
Another very important factor in the prevention of panic disorder is to do with good physical health, taking care of your diet and lifestyle. Whilst many may see this as irrelevant to their emotional/mental health, this could not be further from the truth. Keeping the body free from toxin overload, keeping active and ensuring hormonal balance are just some areas which can help with anxiety.
These are just some of the many tips to coping with panic attacks. What can be seen as insurmountable does not have to be, it's just a case of learning new and improved ways to deal with your body's reaction to fear or imbalance.