Your heart starts to pound. . .You begin to feel dizzy or faint. . .You experience shortness of breath. . .You feel tingling or numbness in your hands and feet. . .You start to feel pressure in your chest. . .You think you may be dying or at the least having a heart attack. . .You think you may be going crazy. . .But you’re NOT!
These are the classic symptoms of a panic attack. Millions of people in countries all over the world, have them every single day. You may be one of them. Or you may know someone that is battling with this affliction.
Either way, you need to know how to help yourself, or someone you care about deal with anxiety. And the best way to do this is through understanding what anxiety is and offering them, or getting, the support they desperately need.
My hope is that as a long time sufferer of anxiety and depression, you can help yourself. Or make a loved one feel as if they are not alone in this by reading through this guide. Other people out there are suffering just as you may be right now.
You CAN get help and overcome this affliction.
You CAN learn to LIVE WITH IT and STOP letting IT control YOU.
Who Suffers From Anxiety?
People who you would never suspect in a million years!
In fact, anxiety is such a widespread disorder that virtually ANYONE can suffer from it. Your uncle Buddy, your Grandma Jean, your sister Annie, your neighbor Joe, your best friend Patti, or your brother George.
But, because anxiety is one of those ‘sweep it under the carpet’, “embarrassment-type-I- think-I-might-be-going-crazy” disorders, people don’t like to talk about it. Or admit they are long time sufferers.
Especially if you are someone always in the public eye, such as Kim Basinger.
Kim had a long, difficult struggle with anxiety disorder, and kept it a secret for quite a good portion of her life. You would never guess it to see her up on the ‘silver screen’ though would you?
But in fact she has spoken out publicly about her battle with anxiety in the hope that this may raise awareness of this dreaded disorder. And it has. She is one brave soul to expose a huge portion of her private life like this. Kudos to you Kim!
Let us not forget also that anxiety is thought to be an inherited disorder, although your mother or father may not show the outward symptoms of it. Remember, this is an embarrassment disorder, or one that makes the sufferer believe they are, or are going, crazy. However, not every person who has experienced an anxiety attack will develop a full blown disorder, but don’t discount the fact that potentially they COULD.
Here’s an interesting statistical fact for you.
According to NIMH(National Institute of Mental Health) approximately 2.4 MILLION adult Americans suffer from some form of anxiety or Panic Disorder. That’s about 40 Million!
And, it is twice as common in women as it is in men.
Hmmm. . .Maybe this could be a contributing factor in why women worry so much about things? 😉
Coincidentally, the major reason for people not knowing what is happening to them, or that they are suffering from anxiety or Panic Disorder COULD be attributed to the fact that many cases reported began in adolescence. Therefore, a child may not be as articulate in describing what they are experiencing compared to an adult.
The key here is to LISTEN TO YOUR CHILDREN!!
You would NOT want them to endure a childhood full of suffering and not even know the reason for it.
Another interesting fact to be aware of is that anxiety attacks don’t only happen when a person is awake! They can, and often do, happen while sleeping. How scary do you think that may be to wake up to?
Indescribable would be putting it MILDLY.
What Is Anxiety?
Imagine standing in front of a high-speed locomotive and you are frozen solid to the spot. Unable to move, knowing what is about to happen, and can do NOTHING to help yourself escape.
Now imagine being plunged into this scenario several times A DAY.
This is what it feels like for an anxiety disorder sufferer. Or as close as it can be described. The only difference is there is no speeding train heading towards you. It is unseen. And comes from out of nowhere.
Crippling you in utter fear.
A good description of anxiety is a disorder in which the individual afflicted feels an intense, irrational fear and an impending sense of doom or dread.
What this means in ‘layman’s terms’ is, if you suffer from anxiety disorder, or any form of it, you can be overcome with paralyzing fear for no obvious reason. You may also feel as if there is no possible way out of it.
And you can experience this sudden fear at any time within the course of a day.
Someone suffering from anxiety disorder may also have other common disorders that go hand-in-hand with it such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, agoraphobia, or any other number of phobias that make it all the more important to seek treatment.
What Causes Anxiety?
Short and sweet?
Everything and NOTHING! Reread the definition of it above. Now the picture should become a bit clearer.
In most documented cases of anxiety attacks, the patient rarely reports any event that would have triggered the onset of the attack itself.
Now, with that said, let me also explain that when an anxiety sufferer goes back to a situation or setting where a previous attack happened, this could trigger another attack.
They’ll be reminded of how terrifying that first attack was, and subconsciously be thinking about it triggering yet another attack!
It’s a vicious cycle of fear.
And the greatest fear of an anxiety attack/disorder sufferer? To have ANOTHER PANIC ATTACK!
I hope that this is beginning to make a little more sense to you now. Of course the attack hasn’t killed them, and most likely won’t, but it can sure feel like you’re dying at the moment when an attack is occurring though.
So, the greatest cause of having an anxiety attack is also your greatest treasure, your MIND. Even though you can tell someone having an anxiety attack that “It’s All In Your Mind”, this usually makes them feel you are being patronizing.
Not a nice feeling I’m sure you’ll agree.
Even though you don’t mean it in that way, this is most likely the way it is received.
To be more ‘clinical’ about anxiety, it is, in fact, ‘all in your mind’. Because the brain is where all your anxiety stems from. Many studies have focused mainly on two specific portions of the brain that are responsible for inducing feelings of fear and anxiety. It is simply a trigger that sets off one’s “fight or flight” defense mechanism, kicks in the
adrenaline, and BAM!
A full blown anxiety attack is on it’s way.
Often, anxiety is the result of increased stress in your daily life.
Bills piling up, children seemingly out of control, pressure from work, family, and other events can trigger this disorder bringing it to the surface of an otherwise “dormant” carrier of the genetic traits passed on by their parents.
What Are The Different Types Of Anxiety?
This is the form of the disorder that brings on sudden attacks that paralyze you with fear for no apparent reason.
Of course there are underlying factors that cause these attacks, however, the sufferer rarely knows what those are, unless they seek professional help from a family physician or a clinical specialist who is trained to deal with this type of disorder.
Most common symptoms of the attacks would be:
- Feeling faint
- Increased breathing
- Pounding heart.
- Tingling or numbing sensations in the hands and feet
- Fear of impending doom.
- Disconnection with reality
- Lack or loss of control.
People that suffer from this disorder may honestly feel as if they are dying, having a heart attack, or losing their minds. These attacks can occur at any time, and even while the sufferer is asleep.
Anxiety/Panic Disorder is often associated with other serious disorders such as depression. Because attacks associated with this disorder are such terrifying events, the sufferer may make several trips to the local emergency room not really knowing the true cause as it may be difficult to get a correct diagnosis at first.
This disorder can be very debilitating to the sufferer and can seriously hinder their daily activities. If a sufferer experiences an attack while driving, they will avoid driving to avoid having another attack. This can be true of any type of daily activity such as grocery shopping, doing dishes, watching television, etc.
However, this form of disorder is the most treatable of all the anxiety disorders, and so an individual experiencing, or believe they are experiencing symptoms of this disorder should seek help and effective treatment through their chosen health care professional.
Social anxiety disorder
This type of disorder more commonly strikes when a sufferer is within a social setting.
It is also referred to as Social Phobia and can be a very traumatic and debilitating disorder making it near impossible for one afflicted with it to be comfortable at any social gathering. This includes everyday functions such as attending class, going out to dinner at a restaurant, or even going to work.
The person suffering from this disorder has strong self-conscious issues and may often times feel as if they are not welcome, or really a part of the social setting. They feel as if they are constantly being judged or watched by others for no apparent reason other than those things they themselves feel self-conscious about.
The social settings can be those that occur on a daily basis, or those that are rare occurrences, such as a party, public speaking events, etc. Often times, the sufferer will experience any of the following symptoms when placed in social gatherings:
- Profuse sweating.
- Trembling or shaking.
- Feeling sick to their stomachs.
- Inability to speak, or blushing.
A person suffering from this type of disorder can become so upset by an upcoming social event that it will plague them for weeks in advance working them into an anxious frenzy by the time the event finally comes around.
In an attempt to ‘self-medicate’, a person experiencing this disorder will often times turn to alcohol or drugs to cope which usually leads to even more problems.
Anxiety disorder usually starts sometime during early childhood or adolescence and continues throughout adulthood.
Treatment for this disorder can be accomplished through careful and consistent counseling and medication.
General anxiety disorder
This disorder is a heightened sense of anxiety or worry experienced on a daily basis. It’s a chronic disorder which is continuous throughout the sufferer’s day. They experience difficulty concentrating or constant, excessive worry about every day concerns with an inability to control those overwhelming feelings of worry.
Symptoms can also include:
- Increased nervousness
While not as extreme a condition such as Anxiety/Panic Disorder, it is still a serious illness that requires professional treatment from a qualified health care provider or counselor.
What Can You Do To Battle Back?
First and foremost, you MUST realize this anxiety attack for what it is when you are having one. Understand that you are having an anxiety attack, and that it won’t last
forever. Most attacks only last anywhere from a few minutes up to no longer than a half an hour. Give or take.
Even though it may be difficult, try to lay down and RELAX.
If you can’t lay down, sit still, close your eyes and focus on slow, even, breathing. This will help ease the symptoms somewhat. Not completely mind you, but enough that you can make it through.
The REAL trick in battling anxiety is to redirect your train of thought. Keep yourself as busy as you can and let the thoughts of fear of an oncoming attack melt away. They will. And the more you practice this reversal of thought, the better you will get at it and be able to manage your anxiety attack better the next time you feel one coming on.
If it becomes too much to manage on your own, seek medical assistance quickly.
Never feel embarrassed for having to call an emergency squad. That’s their job! These courageous folks get calls like this all the time, so you should not feel the least bit of embarrassment or guilt in asking for their help.