ANXIETY: INTRODUCTION AND UNDERSTANDING
Anxiety is a perfectly normal and necessary part of life.
Most people will experience anxious feelings at some stage in their life if put under stress – when afraid or in danger or upon hearing bad news. Anxiety is the body’s response to situations that are interpreted as threatening.
Although anxiety is an emotion we generally prefer not to experience, a certain amount of anxiety is actually very helpful to us.
Without any anxiety, we would probably make bad decisions, such as driving too fast on the highway, or not paying our bills.
Anxiety can help protect us from danger by stimulating our mind and body to make quick decisions.
Our focus will increase as anxiety gives us extra energy and focuses our minds to deal with different challenges. Actors say that no anxiety before going on stage hinders them whist anxiety helps them remember their lines.
Anxiety can motivate us by make us get on with things in our life that we would be better to change. If we feel unhealthy, anxiety can help us change our eating habits, quit smoking or get more exercises.
However, too much anxiety can lead to a miserable life full of unpleasant symptoms and their knock on effects.
Our goal isn’t to eliminate anxiety altogether – but to know how to deal with it when it arises.
IDENTIFYING TRIGGERS, SYMPTOMS, THOUGHTS & COPING METHODS
Here’s a short exercise to help us identify some basics around our anxiety. This will help us to define our triggers, symptoms, thoughts and coping mechanisms.
What are three things that trigger your anxiety?
What are three physical symptoms that you experience when you feel anxious?
What are three thoughts you tend to have when you feel anxious?
What are three things you do to cope when you are anxious?
When Anxiety Tips Into Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are brief periods of overwhelming fear or anxiety. The intensity of a panic attack goes well beyond normal anxiety, and can include a number of physical symptoms.
Here’s a blog that explains when anxiety turns into a panic attack: CLICK HERE
During panic attacks, people often fear that they are having a heart attack, they cannot breathe, or they are dying.
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
Note: A panic attack does not need to include all of the symptoms listed below.
Pounding or racing heart
Trembling or shaking
Fear of “going crazy”
Feeling of being detached from reality
Sense of terror, or impending doom or death
Chest pain or discomfort
Fear of dying
Panic Attack Facts
Panic attacks may feel scary, but they don’t actually cause physical harm. The most common fears associated with panic attacks (having a heart attack or fainting) are not actually a threat.
Panic attacks are usually brief but intense. The symptoms of panic typically peak within 10 minutes, and end within 30 minutes. However, some lingering symptoms can last over an hour.
Panic attacks can seem to occur randomly, or they can be closely linked to a specific source of anxiety such as driving, crowded places, or simply leaving home.
Panic disorder occurs when a person has frequent worry or fear of future panic attacks, or when they change their behavior in to avoid attacks (such as avoiding a feared situation).
How Are Panic Attacks Treated By Doctors?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common and well-supported treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder. CBT works by identifying and changing unhealthy thinking patterns that trigger panic attacks. The benefits of CBT can be long-lasting.
During exposure therapy, the patient is intentionally exposed to the symptoms of panic in a safe environment. As exposure continues, the symptoms become more familiar and less terrifying. Exposure therapy may also involve gradual exposure to feared situations.
Medication for panic attacks can act as a short-term treatment for severe cases. Because medication does not treat the underlying issues that cause panic disorders, it should be accompanied by another form of treatment such as psychotherapy.
Much like how muscles become stronger with exercise, the body’s relaxation response can be improved with practice. Frequent use of relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help to combat panic attacks.
What Else Can We Do To Treat Panic Attacks?
A Gift For You
I have recorded an audio called: “Emergency Audio For Severe Anxiety / Panic Attacks” which is for you to listen to whenever you experience either of these things.
It’s also available on iTunes. Click the image:
Listen to it whenever you feel overwhelmed with anxiety symptoms.
The next lesson explains how CBT techniques can help you to conquer anxiety and how to get started on them.