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Anxiety disorder and panic attacks

It’s normal to feel anxious when you have an important exam coming up, a blind date with a stranger or a new job interview. However, if you feel that anxiety is creeping into the routine of your daily life and you worry even for no reason, then there is a high probability that you suffer from an anxiety disorder.

There are many different types of such disorders, but also many different ways to deal with them. Once you are aware of your problem, there are things you can do to bring peace back into your life and restore your balance.

Understand Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal human emotion and it is even healthy to occur when we are under threat and in danger. In modern times, anxiety often serves as a motivator and a driver.

It makes us more focused and efficient. However, when anxiety becomes our companion, when it begins to affect relationships with the people around us and prevents us from carrying out our daily activities normally, it stops being a driver and becomes a problem.

At this point a person crosses the line of normal healthy stress and enters the zone of anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorder and panic attacks – what are the symptoms

– Permanent feeling of tension and anxiety;

– Interference of anxiety with daily duties at school, work or home;

– You are tormented by fears that you know are irrational, but you cannot get rid of them;

– A feeling that something bad will happen if certain things are not done in a certain way;

– You avoid certain everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety;

– You experience unexpected panic attacks with pounding heartbeats;

– A feeling that dangers and catastrophes in your life are lurking around every corner;

What makes anxiety disorders so difficult to recognize is the fact that the symptoms are not one or two but a whole group, making them quite variable from person to person.

For one person, panic attacks may occur many times a day and in different situations, while for another, they may occur only in certain situations, such as speaking in front of many people or driving a car.

In the worst cases, people live in constant fear and worry about everything that surrounds them.

However, what unites all the symptoms is the feeling of fear and anxiety in situations in which most people feel calm and do not feel discomfort.

Emotional symptoms of anxiety

– Difficulty concentrating;
– Feeling of fear and anxiety;
– Feeling nervous and tense;
– Irritability;
– Inability to relax and unwind;
– Feeling of emptiness in the mind;
– Searching for danger signals;

The physical symptoms of anxiety

The most unpleasant thing about anxiety is that it is not only an emotional problem, but also includes a number of unpleasant physical symptoms, for example the so-called “fight or flight” response.

Because of the physical expression, the symptoms can often be mistaken for a symptom of another illness. The symptoms cause people to go from one doctor to another before finally being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. p>

Physical symptoms of anxiety disorder include:

– palpitations;
– sweating;
– stomach upset or nausea;
– frequent urination;
– diarrhea;
– shallow breathing;
– tremors;
– muscle weakness;
– headache;
– dizziness;
– insomnia;

Anxiety and depression

Very often, but not necessarily, people with an anxiety disorder develop depression or various depressive states.

Anxiety disorder and depression are disorders that have a lot in common, that is, they are of the same nature, so it is not surprising that they very often go hand in hand.

The two conditions complement each other in a very unpleasant way for the person and make him feel even worse, so it is recommended to seek specialized help in case of need.

Anxiety Attacks and Their Symptoms

Anxiety attacks, better known as panic attacks, are short periods of intense panic or fear. A characteristic feature of them is that they appear suddenly and without warning.

Sometimes they can be triggered by something specific, such as a fear of public speaking or being stuck in an elevator. Other times, however, they can literally pop out of nowhere.

When they appear, they peak after about 10 minutes and rarely last more than 30 minutes.

Despite the short duration, a person can experience such severe fear and terror that they even think they are dying!

The unpleasant symptomatology of panic attacks makes many people think they are having a heart attack. It is very likely that a person will also have subsequent panic attacks, especially in public places where one feels that one cannot escape.

The symptoms of panic attacks are:

– a feeling of terrifying panic;
– a feeling of loss of control;
– a feeling of going crazy;
– a strong heartbeat and even chest pain;
– feeling like you have to run somewhere;
– difficulty breathing and feeling suffocated;
– hyperventilation;
– hot flashes or shivering;
– shaking or staggering;
– nausea or stomach cramps;
– feeling unreality;

Types of Anxiety Disorder

There are six main types of anxiety disorder, each with its own distinct and unique symptoms: generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder (anxiety attacks), phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder.

Self-help for anxiety, panic attacks and anxiety disorders

Not every person with anxiety suffers from an anxiety disorder. Sometimes this can result from lack of sleep, problems at work or at home, as well as excessive coffee consumption.

If you live an unhealthy life or are under a lot of stress, it is not surprising that you also have an anxiety disorder. To begin with, you need to answer the following questions:

– Do you have time each day for rest and entertainment?
– Do you get the emotional support you need?
– Do you take good care of your body?
– Do you feel overwhelmed with obligations?
– Do you seek help when you need it?

If you feel like your stress levels are too high, then it’s time to change some things to get your balance back. You can give up some of your responsibilities or transfer them to another person.

If you feel isolated and unsupported you need to find someone to confide in and talk to. Having someone to talk to about your problems and anxieties can make great progress towards a more balanced state.

How to deal with anxiety disorder?

1. Challenge your negative thoughts

Write what you are worried about with a pen on a piece of paper. Remember that writing down exactly how you feel is much more difficult than thinking about it, so your problem will probably soon start to seem less important.

– Take 10 minutes just for bad thoughts. Think about the bad things without trying to correct your thoughts. Let go of the thought completely and surrender to the negativity. After these ten minutes, go about your regular activities. If something worries you at some point, tell yourself that you will think about it the next time there is time for bad thoughts.

Embrace uncertainty. Unfortunately, thinking about bad things won’t prevent them. For this, try to accept uncertainty and live in harmony with it. Don’t look for here-and-now solutions to problems that plague most people all their lives.

2. Take care of yourself

– Practice relaxation techniques. When practiced regularly, relaxation techniques such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing can reduce anxiety symptoms and increase feelings of calm and emotional well-being.

– Switch to a healthy diet. Start the day with a quality breakfast and continue with frequent small meals throughout the day. Going too long without food leads to low blood sugar levels, which can make you feel more anxious.

– Reduce alcohol and nicotine consumption. They lead to more anxiety, not less.

– Exercise regularly. Exercise is naturally calming and relieves symptoms of anxiety. For maximum benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week.

– Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can exacerbate anxious thoughts and feelings, so try to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.

When to seek professional help?

While sometimes self-help strategies for dealing with anxiety can be very effective if your worries, fears or panic attacks have become so great , that cause you to experience extreme stress or worsen your quality of life, then it is time to seek professional help.

If you are experiencing a lot of unpleasant physical symptoms as a result of anxiety, consider seeing a doctor. Your doctor will make sure that your anxiety is not caused by a medical condition, such as a thyroid problem, hypoglycemia, or asthma.

Because some medications and nutritional supplements can cause anxiety, your doctor will also want to know about any medications, herbal remedies, alcohol, or drugs you may have taken recreationally.

If your doctor has ruled out a medical cause, the next step is to see a therapist who has experience treating panic attacks and anxiety disorders. The therapist will work with you to determine the cause and type of your anxiety and develop a program to treat it.

Treatment

Patients with anxiety disorders usually respond very well to treatment, and in a relatively short period of time. The specific type of treatment depends on the type of anxiety disorder and its severity.

But in general, most anxiety disorders are treated with behavioral therapy, medication alone, or a combination of both. Sometimes certain types of complementary or alternative treatments can also be very helpful.

Behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of behavioral therapy. It focuses on behavioral manifestations rather than underlying psychological conflicts or problems from the past. Behavioral therapy for anxiety usually takes between 5 and 20 weekly sessions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on your thoughts or suggestions. In treating an anxiety disorder, it helps to identify and challenge the negative thought patterns and irrational beliefs that fuel your anxiety.

Exposing the problem as a method of treating an anxiety disorder encourages you to face your fears in the safety of a controlled environment.

Through repeated exposures to the stressor or situation or object, whether in your imagination or in reality, you gain a greater sense of control and habituation to the stressor. When you face your fear, without to be hurt, your anxiety gradually decreases.

Medications

A variety of medications, including benzodiazepines and antidepressants, are used to treat a wide range of anxiety disorders. But medication would be most effective if combined with behavioral therapy and self-help strategies.

Medications are usually used in the short term to relieve severe anxiety symptoms, but are most often just an adjunct to other forms of therapy.

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