Anxiety and panic, please don’t suffer alone

Anxiety

Written by Hilary Dixon

Most people experience stress or anxiety at some point in their lives and some will experience intense attacks of fear and anxiety called panic attacks. Panic attacks are often mistaken for something more serious due to the intense feelings of the symptoms. They can be so overwhelming and usually arrive so abruptly and unexpectedly, that it’s hard to believe they aren’t harmful. Once experienced, never forgotten. 

When I had my first panic attack I experienced a feeling of utter terror which was so distressing I felt compelled to run from the situation. I was on a tube train in central London, having just left work and remember being tightly packed in, like a sardine, on the train. I felt anxious about the lack of space and then BAM! the pounding heart, shaking, wobbly legs and the thought that I was going to faint, caused me to panic and get off the train urgently. It was embarrassing, as well as scary. 

After that, avoidance became my thing, as I feared the recurrence of those symptoms. I regularly said ‘no’ to friends, concerts, social outings and any events where I anticipated feeling anxious. I had many panic attacks after that; at work, at home, socially, and so I began to avoid the places where the anxiety had occurred before. As the anxiety and panic took hold, it was apparent that my world was getting smaller and I was feeling more and more out of control.  

My grandmother was agoraphobic and I became convinced that I was heading in that direction. Change was needed urgently if I wanted to live fully. It was then, and unfortunately years later, that I reached out for professional help. Luckily I found the right therapist and like any good therapist, she provided the necessary conditions for me to change and take control of my life. 

If you are suffering from anxiety and panic stay on this page right now! There are some free resources here for you to help yourself. I work alongside my clients therapeutically to help them overcome the anxiety and panic which is limiting their life. I know how self destructive it can be, I know what it feels like and know it can quickly destroy your confidence and sap your strength. Reach out today for professional help and book your first session here. You’ll be glad you did. 


How do I know if I’m having a panic attack?

This may sound obvious but it isn’t. Panic can be such an overwhelming feeling and arrives so abruptly and unexpectedly that people can interpret it as something more serious. The feeling of a panic attack can be so unusual and terrifying that you can fear it’s recurrence and then avoid certain situations.

Panic affects your body, mind and the way you behave. The following are some of the most common symptoms experienced by people having a panic attack.

Physical symptoms

Heart is pounding, beating fast or skipping a beat.
Heart feels like it’s stopped followed by a big thud.
Chest pains.
Changes in breathing -breathing fast, feeling short of breath, gulping, sighing, yawning or panting.

Throbbing in the head.
Numbness or tingling in fingers, toes or lips. Feeling faint, wobbly/jelly legs.

Frightening feelings

Feelings of utter terror.
Feelings of unreality, as though you are not really there.
Feeling anxious in situations where panic has happened before.

Frightening thoughts

I’m having a heart attack
I think I’m going to collapse or faint

I’m running out of air
I’m going mad
I’m going to die
I’m choking
I’m going to be sick
I’m losing control
I’m going to embarrass myself
I’ve got to get out of here

It’s important to remember that panic is not dangerous or harmful.

As a result of experiencing panic you may have adopted some strategies to try and prevent a panic attack in the future. Unfortunately these can also become a part of the problem. You will likely recognise some below.

Avoidance

Do you avoid certain situations, perhaps ones which have caused panic in the past or ones that you anticipate might cause panic? E.g. going shopping in crowded places, going to concerts

Escape tactics

Do you employ quick getaways to escape situations where you begin to panic or believe you are going to panic? For instance, you may purposefully sit nearest the door in case you feel the urge to escape.

Prevention

Do you try and prevent what you think is going to happen by doing something to make yourself safe? (Safety behaviours). For instance, lying down if you think you’re going to faint or scanning your body for evidence of something being wrong, or even calling an ambulance because you believe you are in imminent danger.

Unfortunately, all these behaviours are unhelpful (albeit some temporary relief) and just keeps the fear and panic going. By avoiding, escaping or preventing panic attacks it is likely that:

• you will never find out that the perceived danger was imagined.
• you could lose confidence in your ability to cope independently.
• you may experience increased dread going back into some situations, because you fear another attack.

To summarise:
A panic attack is a strong feeling of terror that comes on very suddenly. Physical symptoms include pounding heart, fast breathing, shaking, wobbly legs etc. People often have lots of frightening thoughts and think something awful is going to happen. They often try to avoid or escape the panic.

It’s important to remember that panic is not dangerous or harmful although self diagnosis could be. Whichever symptoms you are experiencing it is wise to check in with your GP. In the meanwhile, you can download self help audio resources from the Therapy Bubble Library to begin taking control of your suspected anxiety and panic. As a result you will feel calmer, less anxious and more in control. Play for 7 days and experience the difference.

In addition, should you need support please drop into our booking page and schedule an appointment.

Self help audio tonics: to nourish, soothe and train your mind:

Replace Anxiety with Calm tonic ……Soothing words to induce physical and mental relaxation.  A game changer for anyone with anxiety. Play daily for 1 week and notice a profound difference in how you feel. Many clients mention the increasing sense of calm they experience by listening each day.

Tonic Taster

Panic control tonic……..on it’s way……A major key in overcoming panic is in understanding the positive intent of your stress response as well as the vicious cycle of panic. You can then learn techniques to cope with anxiety and panic and persuade your mind to stay calm in the face of it. The audio provides a technique that puts you back in control, helping you to stay calm and not to collude with the symptoms despite knowing they are on their way. 

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