Anxiety is a natural emotion that everyone experiences at some point in their life. It “is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.” nhs.uk It occurs in response to stressful situations and only becomes a problem when it starts to interfere with daily life.
According to an article by Dr. Regina Rosell, Clinical psychologist, the term anxiety attack is a layperson’s term for panic attacks. It is not a medical terminology.
Panic attacks are sudden and intense feelings of intense fear or anxiety that last for a few minutes. They include at least four of the following symptoms:
Symptoms of Panic Attacks
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feelings of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
- Chills or heat sensations
- Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)
- Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
- Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- Fear of dying
The Differences between Anxiety and Panic Attacks
- Anxiety can range on a scale from mild to severe. However, panic attacks are intense and debilitating.
- Anxiety usually builds up gradually while panic attacks occur suddenly with no warning.
- Anxiety attacks are a response to stressful situations but panic attacks do not necessarily have stressors.
How To Cope With Panic Attacks
- Recognise it for what it is. Persons suffering from panic attacks think they are experiencing a heart attack. By understanding what panic attacks are, you will be more able to cope with the fear of dying.
- Connect with your breath. Your breath is a key component in any change in emotions. Practice taking deep and long breaths to help calm your nervous system. Breath in for 5 seconds, holding for 5 seconds, breathing out for 5 seconds, and holding for 5 seconds.
- Try the 54321 grounding exercise to distract your mind.
- Acknowledge 5 things you see around you.
- Acknowledge 4 things you can touch around you.
- Acknowledge 3 things you hear.
- Acknowledge 2 things you can smell.
- Acknowledge 1 thing you can taste.
- Add relaxation practices to your daily routine such as yoga and meditation.
- Adjust your lifestyle. Avoid too much stress. Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. Stay away from drugs. Monitor negative thoughts and learn to express your emotions.
- Seek professional help. Find a therapist or speak to your doctor to find solutions and gain more insight.
- Ask for help. Reach out to your loved ones for support. Let them know what you are experiencing and how to help you.
I know from experience how scary panic attacks can be and the benefits of seeking help. I hope that this post provides some guidance to those suffering from the effects of anxiety disorders and panic attacks.
- Five Simple (But Important) Things To Remember About Mental Illness
- Mental Illness: Signs, Symptoms and The Impact on Life Quality
- 7 Effective Self Care Tips for Alleviating Anxiety
Thank you for reading.