Anxiety or Panic Attack sufferers…you’re in good company
Amanda Seyfried • John Mayer • Lena Dunham
Oprah Winfrey • Emma Stone • Howie Mandel
Whoopi Goldberg • Barbra Streisand • Kim Basinger
Lady Gaga • Selena Gomez • Stephen Colbert
Ariana Grande • Ryan Reynolds • Carson Daly
Prince Harry • Missy Elliot • Chris Evans
Jennifer Lopez • Kristen Bell • Leonardo Dicaprio
Adele • Hugh Grant
Isn’t Anxiety and Panic Attacks The Same Thing?
No, though they share similar, symptoms they are different.
Anxiety (Worry) vs Panic Attacks (Fear) what’s the difference?
Panic Attacks have a direct endocrine stress-response with the release of adrenaline (adrenaline rush) but little production of cortisol (stress hormone). It is the reaction to a perceived imminent threat
Anxiety produces the stress hormone cortisol and is perceived as a distant, uncertain, abstract threat. An anxiety attack could be considered as “worry”. Will you have enough money this month to pay your mortgage.
A panic “attack” is not an attack. It’s a false alarm (Your body is sending you a false messages from your fear system) It’s a mistake, it’s saying “better safe than sorry”
A panic attack is not trying to attack you, it’s trying to attack an invisible threat
The problem is that this “false alarm” feels the same as a real one.
A panic attack is an overreaction to a perceived threat
Isn’t it interesting that a panic attack as a certain negative stigma placed on it, yet and actor who says they get “stage fright” is considered a normal response. No difference but the term.
In nature, panic attacks are there to keep you safe. It’s like a leg cramp, it’s involuntary. Panic attacks are triggers by learned fears
Remember your subconsciousness mind is just as awake as you are. Who is really doing the driving as you are talking to someone. Your active mind is controlling the conversation, but the subconscious is controlling the car.
The amygdala is set of nerves deep in the brain and is key in processing emotions and acts as our radar, looking out for your safety. It is key in the response to stress.
Mistakes people make in trying to cope with panic attacks
- Trying to fight a panic attack
- Unproductive distraction techniques
- Avoiding or running away from situations (these can make things work)
- Feeling bad or ashamed about a natural response (you think you’re going crazy)
- Asking pointless questions such as “why me” (these will only exasperate the situation). Accept what is happening as natural and your response is natural as well.
What Should I Do?
- First TURN OFF off the adrenaline tap
- Remember that you will begin to feel better in about 10 MINUTES as your symptoms dissipate
- Accept you are having an episode and STOP FIGHTING, you’re only adding fuel to the fire
- SIT DOWN with both feet planted on the ground and just DO NOTHING
- Take “slow breaths, breath in for 5 seconds in and breath out for 5 seconds. DO NOT TAKE DEEP BREATHS as they will make you light headed and your body will over-react to it as a threat.
- WRIST FOREARM TECHNIQUE. Roll up your sleeves and put your feet on the floor and grab your elbows by criss-crossing your arms. Draw your hands along your arms down to your wrists. Repeat again and again as this is very soothing. This has a distracting effect from your mind.
- TAKE NOTE of 3 things you can see, 3 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel. This makes you more mindful
- STOP TRYING TO SUPPRESS A THOUGHT it makes it stronger, more tenacious, more frequent and more enduring
- Your body wants to run away, so don’t give in to it. Realize that what you’re experiencing is your “stress system” sending a FALSE SIGNAL signal of fear.
- Your “stress system” is there to protect you NOT HARM YOU. The more you focus on the “attack” the stronger it will become.
- Symptoms are uncomfortable, but NOT dangerous
- Keep in mind that you need to TRUST YOURSELF. You are in charge and you are capable of handling this “crisis”
- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, if you are beginning to get sweaty palms, that’s a clue that your body is under stress and the mind will consider it as a threat and thus begins the “stress cycle”. So listening for warning signs from your body and act on them to reduce the risk of a panic attack.
- KEEP A JOURNAL of the frequency, intensity and length of each panic attack. Whether there were any factors that contributed to the event. This will put you in control and you will then see a pattern.
- Remember, this too SHALL PASS like gas
The symptoms of an anxiety or panic attack are uncomfortable but not dangerous
These are my observations as an anxiety and panic attack victim. I have gathered my observations and techniques along with those of others to help to cope. I am not a medical practitioner. Please consult with your physician regarding your situation.