Panic disorder affects 2 to 3 percent of people in the United States per year. It is twice as likely to occur in women than in men. Individuals with panic disorder tend to have spontaneous panic attacks. They become preoccupied with the fear that they may happen again, and at any time.
The condition can interfere with many aspects of the person’s life, causing them to avoid work or school and avoid situations wherein they fear a panic attack may occur.
Many people with panic disorder are embarrassed or afraid to tell anyone about what they experience. Instead, distance themselves from family and friends who could be supportive.
Panic disorder results from misinterpreting sensations linked with the fight-or-flight responses.This triggers an frightening barrage of symptoms, also known as a panic attack.
Living in fear of having a panic attack can actually cause them.
Although scary, panic attacks are harmless; they are the body’s alarm system kicking in and are not designed to harm you in any way.
While the response may make you feel as though you are going crazy or dying, you are not. Your body would have the same reaction if you were facing a physical threat, such as coming face to face with a bear.
Once you understand what panic disorder is and the symptoms, you can learn to cope with them. The goal is not to eliminate the attacks, but to find a way to manage them without fear.
Panic: Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques can help to calm your body down, relax your muscles, and help you to think more rationally. Relaxation strategies can also halt the production of stress hormones such as adrenaline.
Calm breathing can help to reduce some of these physical symptoms. Try practicing calm breathing twice per day for at least 5 minutes.
- Inhale slowly through the nose for 4 seconds.
- Pause for 1 or 2 seconds.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth for 4 seconds.
- Pause for a couple of seconds before taking the next breath.
Calm breathing regulates your intake of oxygen and prevents the dizziness, lightheadedness, and tingling sensations that are connected with overbreathing.
Panic: Face Up To The Challenge
Work to overcome situations, places, and activities that you have been avoiding due to the fear of having panic attacks.
Make a list of situations, places, activities, and objects that you fear in order from the least feared to the most feared. Begin with exposing yourself to the thing that you fear the least and repeatedly engage in that activity until you feel less anxious.
Exposure can be brief at first and then extended. Perhaps you could go to the place with a friend or family member to begin with and then tackle going there on your own.
It is important to plan your exposure exercises to feel in control of the situation. Work out what you are going to do and when you plan to do it.
Facing the things you fear most can sometimes be frightening. Take your time and go at your own pace, and you will eventually overcome anxiety.