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Anxiety and Panic attacks

Anxiety and Panic attacks

Everyone faces stressful situations in their lives. Our natural response to these situations is to try and find the best possible solutions. But sometimes our minds don’t seem to work and we experience a state of intense panic. This helplessness is so overwhelming that we may even experience physical manifestations like breathlessness, fatigue and headaches. This fear, though irrational, may end up ruling our lives.

We experience anxiety when we are under threat. It’s the natural response of the body to danger. We feel anxious when we are stressed too. Typically anxiety is when one is worried, tense or afraid because of possible situations arising in the future or reliving uncomfortable moments from the past. This is when we are in a state of alertness and pay more attention to our surroundings to ensure the best possible outcome.

However what happens when the level of anxiety exceeds the healthy limit? The same anxiety that drives us, becomes a hindrance in life. Since the effects of anxiety are not visible, most people with anxiety hesitate to confide in their near and dear ones. They resort to avoiding the situations that make them have these attacks instead, to avoid embarrassment and discomfort.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety generally manifests when we are worried about the future or the past. Sometimes it escalates to a level when the body physically responds to the anxiety, in which case it becomes a panic attack. A panic attack is typically characterized by an increased heart rate, nausea, dizziness, feeling faint, difficulty in breathing, choking, indigestion, sweating and chest pain. These symptoms of panic attacks are sometimes mistaken for symptoms of other physical conditions. When you face any of these symptoms, calm yourself down by taking in deep breaths, and focus all your attention on your breathing. Consult your doctor after you have calmed down and systematically explain the symptoms to them to minimize misdiagnosis.

Everyone faces anxiety differently, because it manifests differently in people. If you feel that your symptoms don’t match the general definition of anxiety, it could be a different form of anxiety. It is really important to get a professional opinion about anxiety if it is hindering your daily functions.

Sometimes anxiety could affect for no apparent reason and one may be under a constant state of worry for days at a time. This is harmful for the body in the long run because under stress and anxiety, active hormones like adrenalin are released to make the body alert and a constant elevation disrupts the balance of hormones. Even if you can’t pin point the trigger for your anxiety, the fact that you’re suffering from anxiety is reason enough to seek help.

Since anxiety is a normal human emotion, even elevated levels of anxiety are often perceived as normal and the affected person could slowly start changing his lifestyle to avoid these embarrassing situations. Making changes in your lifestyle because of anxiety reduces your quality of life. Seeking help and confiding in a trustworthy person will not only reduce your stress levels but also provide clarity on your mental state. Exchanging notes with someone else will shed light on the severity of your anxiety.

When is it a problem?

Most people with the disorder hesitate to confide in their near and dear ones. They resort to avoiding the situations that make them have these attacks instead. When anxiety becomes a hindrance in daily life, it is time to get it treated professionally. How do we know that it is a hindrance though?

We’ve all had very embarrassing episodes which made us want to disappear. But as time went by, these episodes went from vivid cringe-worthy recollections to distant memories. However if you continued feeling the embarrassment with the same intensity and still continue to do so, then it is a cause for concern. Reliving these moments is stressful and only you still remember the incident vividly because you’ve played it repeatedly in your head, eventually making it larger than life and hence causing you to avoid even present situations in fear of history repeating itself.

If the anxiety and panic you feel is disproportionate to the situation you’re facing, and if this lasts for a prolonged time (for days even after the situation is long past) then it’s a sign that you may need to get a professional opinion. If you find yourself avoiding situations that cause anxiety then it is a sign that your anxiety is taking control of your life and that you need to seek help to face it        

It is important to accept the fact that anxiety is impeding and it does affect your quality of life.  Sometimes when there is a sudden onset of anxiety with no history, we tend to blame ourselves for not being able to function as well as we used to. This becomes a cycle between feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness and anxiety. Actively recognizing the symptoms and fighting them will equip you to live a better enriched life.

How to fight it?

Anxiety and panic attacks can be very debilitating. At the onset of an attack, one is disoriented and doesn’t know how to handle the attack at that moment. Confiding in our friends and family can help a lot as they can help us to calm down.

There are a few things that one may keep in mind to prevent a full blown panic attack and stave off the worst. Regulating and focusing on breathing is the most important thing, during a panic attack, taking in deep breaths and exhaling slowly can help lower the heart beat and thus avert a panic attack. Direct your entire focus on the one object from your current situation for a little while to divert your mind off the trigger causing the attack, when you feel that your hyperventilation has reduced, you know that you have successfully avoided a panic attack. The goal is to continue life as it is running without being affected by anxiety. These techniques help you to focus on the present and ward off an attack.

When you’re having a panic attack, reassure yourself that you are not in any danger and that the situation will play out well. Focusing on this one positive thought that goes against the trigger of your panic attack will help you keep your mind on the present.

A panic attack is extremely exhausting because the entire body goes into a very hyper stance. Give yourself a little time to rest and regain your strength.

Anxiety may not be completely curable but one can learn to appropriately deal with it so that it doesn’t get debilitating. Living with anxiety may be tough but it is not impossible. With right support and correct guidance, you may get over your anxiety before you even know it. Help yourself to shed all the extra baggage so you may concentrate on a better fulfilled life.

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