If you’ve had a panic attack, you may be left feeling exhausted, worn out, and terrified. You could be struggling to understand what in the world just happened. They seem to be sudden and without warning, and can happen anywhere. The symptoms of a panic attack are often so intense that many people start to believe that they are dying. In fact, fear that you are dying IS one of the symptoms that people report to our anxiety therapists in Atlanta.
It’s difficult to know exactly what circumstances cause a panic attack but there are links to underlying anxiety, stress, trauma, and even a potential serotonin imbalance. There may be some triggers influencing you outside of your awareness. Maybe you’re facing a huge transition and aren’t conscious of just how anxious you’re feeling about it. Perhaps there’s a fear you haven’t realized that gets triggered in an interaction with someone.
During a panic attack, your brain goes into “fight or flight” mode where your brain believes you’re threatened and survival is the unconscious goal. Although there are no concrete triggers for panic attacks, the physical experience is real. Even if you’re not literally in danger, your body is still secreting hormones to aid in fight or flight.
Panic attacks can be scary, and they’re also very treatable. Our anxiety therapists in Atlanta want to offer some tips and information that may help.
Therapies That Can Help
Thankfully, there are several evidence-based therapies that have consistent results in treating panic attacks. Some of these include:
- Exposure Response Prevention
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
These therapies can also be successful in treating anxiety and can help any underlying anxiety that may be contributing to your panic attacks.
Medication therapy in conjunction with counseling can also be successful.
What You Can Do
When you suddenly begin experiencing anxiety or panic, it’s important to rule out any medical issues. Your primary care physician can work to rule out any physiological causes for the attacks. Working with your physician is a good safeguard to ensure that you are covered from all angles. Further, some symptoms of a panic attack involve changing heart rate, chest pain, or dizziness and it’s important to determine if there is a physical issue.
Though panic attacks seem to be sudden, research indicates that they actually begin about 45-60 minutes before you’re aware you’re having one. Regular, daily practice of deep breathing can soothe the part of your nervous system that is activated during a panic attack.
Coping in the moment
There are several techniques that can help you reorient and regulate your nervous system when you are having an attack. Please note, it’s best to speak with an Atlanta anxiety therapist to know how best to move through a panic attack.
Lean into the anxiety. An Atlanta therapist who is trained in ERP can assist you in learning more about this. When working to lean in, know that panic attacks pass. Instead of judging what’s happening, get curious about it. Observe it. It may seem contradictory, but may times the fear of a panic attack gives it power.
Diaphragmatic breathing (deep breathing that expands your belly instead of your chest) can help you feel more in control. Talk to your therapist about if this may be a helpful tool for you.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a technique where you systematically tense and relax groups of muscles.
Repeat a mantra like, “This will pass” or “I am safe.”
Use Your 5 Senses to ground yourself. Name:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Pick one of the following and make a list of as many as you can:
- All the movies you can think of
- All of your favorite songs from high school
- Favorite memories
Ant anxiety therapist in Atlanta can understand how debilitating and terrifying a panic attack and anxiety can be. They will assess your needs and work with you to find the right combination of therapies and techniques that will improve your quality of life and decrease your anxiety about your panic attacks. Please don’t wait to get the help you deserve. Call us today.