2 Powerful Ways to End All Panic Attacks
Comments are always a pleasure to receive and read.
This morning I woke up to a comment from ArtyQuiltyMamma.
The article in question, How to Calm Down During a Panic Attack, is factual to the best of my knowledge. However it is not comprehensive and not very specific.
These Attributes Might Be Causing Your Panic Attacks
There are primarily two unhealthy attributes of an anxious mind that sets you up for panic attacks. These are:
• Anticipatory anxiety (When worrying about the future causes anxiety in the present)
• Anxiety sensitivity (The fear of symptoms often associated with your anxiety)
The most dangerous effect of anticipatory anxiety is the way it promotes avoidance.
Let’s imagine that you have a panic attack while riding the bus. In the future you might be worried every time you think about riding busses.
People might even avoid certain places and situations because of this anxiety. This is typically how agoraphobia begins.
By heightening your anxiety levels, anticipatory anxiety will also leave you more vulnerable to future panic attacks.
This is especially true for places and situations that have caused panic attacks in the past.
Reducing Anticipatory Anxiety
Stress leads to more anticipatory anxiety; the first step in a treatment should be to reduce overall stress.
- Regular exercise. Cardio is preferred, taking walks, jogging, cycling, swimming, etc.
- Dietary changes. Limit sugar and processed meat. Make sure to get enough water, vitamins, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids.
- Promote deep relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation is a great tool here.
- Get enough sleep, 8-10 hours for teenagers.
After reducing overall stress, you might want to look into thought journaling + examination and challenging of anxious thoughts.
Anticipatory anxiety is often very catastrophic (it tends to assume the worst and isn’t very realistic.) Examining and challenging is perfect for these kinds of thoughts.
Long term, it also gives you the tools you need to break down anxious thoughts on the fly, so you never worry yourself into a panic attack.
Anxiety sensitivity is defined as the fear of your own anxiety symptoms.
A slightly raised heartbeat or some dizziness might cause you to think “I am having a panic attack”. It could also manifest as more irrational beliefs, like fearing a heart attack because of pain in the chest.
The worrying caused by anxiety sensitivity can start a feedback loop that can easily lead to a panic attack. Best case scenario it leaves you in a permanent state of anxiety.
Reducing Anxiety Sensitivity
You can reduce anxiety sensitivity by using a technique called symptom induction. This is basically exposure therapy for the symptoms caused by anxiety.
You can for example:
- Do cardio; get your heart rate up. Now simply experience that feeling. Keep confirming to yourself that this is a natural, healthy, and safe experience.
- Cardio can work for shortness of breath as well.
- Spin around to induce dizziness. Again, this is natural, healthy, and safe. You do not need to fear dizziness.
Doing this for every symptom that causes a fear reaction will reduce anxiety sensitivity considerably over time.
Note that it does take repeat exposure, and it might be necessary to start with low intensity. High intensity can become overwhelming and end up causing more anxiety.
It might also help to learn about anatomy and physiology. A lot of fear from anxiety sensitivity is rooted in uncertainty.
- A rapid heartbeat might not be scary because you think it IS a heart attack, but rather because you think it might cause a heart attack. Know that your heart could stay at 200bpm for days without taking any damage. Panic attacks simply do not cause heart attacks. It is just an uncomfortable feeling.
- Shortness of breath might lead you to believe you’ll suffocate. This is simply not true. During a panic attack, muscles will tense up and clamp down on your lungs, making it more difficult to take deep breaths. Rest assured that your body is still getting more than enough oxygen to survive.
- You might believe that you will lose control over yourself during a panic attack. There is no evidence to support this happening. Aside from being focused on escaping, you are still completely in control of your actions.
There are numerous more examples provided in chapter 6 of “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook” by Edmund J. Bourne for those who want more.
Panic attacks are very uncomfortable, but never dangerous!
Target anticipatory anxiety by:
• Reducing stress levels
• Examining and challenging irrational beliefs and thoughts
Target anxiety sensitivity by:
• Using symptom induction
• Studying anatomy and physiology