Coping with Anxiety and Panic Attacks

As fall rolls around, people start to get back into stricter work habits, school habits, and stress often comes rolling in around the holidays. As responsibilities build up Ayana wants you to be aware of what is going on with your mind and body and be ready to get help or handle what happens. Many people who struggle with anxiety will experience panic attacks in times of immense stress.

For those of you who haven’t experienced a panic attack, we’ll explain. Anxiety disorder comes in many shapes and sizes, from generalized anxiety disorder to panic disorder to social anxiety or other things. It depends on what triggers a person, and how they react to it.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is often triggered by certain events or activities, even ordinary routine issues, and will include persistent and excessive anxiety. The worry is out of proportion to the actual circumstances, is difficult to control and affects how you feel physically. It often occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression (According to the Mayo Clinic).

Instead, Panic Disorder, comes more often with panic attacks. It involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a rapid, fluttering or pounding heart (heart palpitations). These panic attacks may lead to worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations in which they've occurred (According to the Mayo Clinic).

Social anxiety disorder, along with other anxiety disorders, like agoraphobia or separation anxiety disorder, are all triggered by certain situations. Whether it be social situations, closed or packed spaces, or being disconnected from a loved one, these can all trigger various circumstances that cause anxiety or panic attacks.

Some symptoms of anxiety include the following:

  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense

  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom

  • Having an increased heart rate

  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)

  • Sweating

  • Trembling

  • Feeling weak or tired

  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry

  • Having trouble sleeping

  • Having difficulty controlling worry

  • Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

If you experience a lot of these emotions frequently, do not be afraid to reach out for help and speak about these experiences because there are people who can help you through this and find a solution that works for you. Also, if there are certain situations that you are aware of that cause you anxiety, don’t be afraid to put yourself first and say no to certain environments or people. As they are often are the causes of ongoing panic attacks.

The extreme fear or nervousness that comes with anxiety is something that no one deserves to experience, so here are some coping mechanisms that we hope may help if an anxiety attack hits you.

  • First, be aware that it is a panic attack in the moment, and try to remind yourself what it is and that it will pass.

  • Use deep breathing, and be aware of your breathing. This will help control your breath. Breathe in on a count of 4 and hold it for a second and then breathe out on a count of 4.

  • Close your eyes, especially if the situation around you is causing the anxiety, this will help remove you from the situation temporarily.

  • Practice mindfulness. Being in the moment in a panic attack is very important. It will allow you to realize that this will pass. If you have an app like Calm or Headspace on your phone, take it out and do a quick mindfulness activity.

  • Engage your senses to calm them. Find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can touch. This is also mindfulness and will help reduce stimuli that may be overwhelming you.

  • Picture your happy place, somewhere outside of the situation

Obviously, these are generalized tips, they will not work for everyone, but they may help in certain situations. If you experience a panic attack for the first time it may be a scary situation, however knowing some of these tips may help calm you in the moment. Always try to remember it will end.

Ayana and Anxiety

Ayana wants our users to be happy and healthy, no matter what it takes. Which is why we focus on getting people mental health therapy that is accessible, and culturally competent. Our therapists specialize in things like anxiety disorders and depression and can help people get to the bottom of what may be causing your anxiety and hopefully release a lot of those feelings!

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