Category Archive: Anxiety

Don’t Panic! The Facts About Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are very uncomfortable but they are not as dangerous as you think.

While panic may be one of the most fearful and dreadful experiences you ever had, it doesn’t mean that having panic attacks will cause a heart attack, give you a stroke, stop you from breathing, choke you, make you loose control or make you go crazy. These fears can often perpetuate the panic cycle.

Panic attacks will not make you faint.

While you faint for a variety of reasons that may have nothing to do with panic attacks, (heat, exhaustion, dehydration, poor nutrition, etc.) panic is not likely to make you faint. When you faint your blood pressure must go down, when you’re having a panic attack your blood pressure is going up, not down. Although there are some people that may faint during the course of a panic attack, it is very rare. This risk seems to be linked to people who faint at the sight of blood or when getting a needle. If this hasn’t happened to you, then its pretty unlikely that you’ll faint from a panic attack

You are still in control even when you feel out of control

The urge to escape from panic feelings can be so strong that you may believe that you should do something to escape it. For example, you might try to leave the situation in a hurry. It may also feel as if you are out of balance, disoriented, and falling, this too is highly unlikely. People can and do function through panic attacks doing a variety of day to day activities. Although you can probably do all these activities safely, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

You will not go crazy because of a panic attack

While panic attacks may produce a variety of strange sensations (disorientation, not feeling like things are real, hyperventilation, overwhelming urges to escape, etc.) it will NOT make you -“go crazy, loose your sanity or never go back to normal”.

Panic attacks will pass (they always do)

Most panic attacks actually last less than a couple of minutes. While you might still feel general anxiety or fatigue after the peak of the panic attack passes, with the help of some paced breathing and rational thinking, the peak itself should not last long. You can get past a panic attack and relatively comfortable again WITHOUT ESCAPING the situation. Stop and sit down, lean on a wall, find a quieter spot and focus on your paced breathing, then try to refocus on distractions and go on.

Odd sensations don’t necessarily mean you are sick; good health doesn’t mean perfect health.

The body can produce a variety of strange sensations especially after periods of stress. Non- dangerous sensations can come from hundreds of things; temperature changes, changes in lighting, spicy foods, gas, not eating, caffeine, colds/flu, muscle strains, fatigue and of course stress. You don’t have to keep track of every odd sensation, most of them will come and go without having to explain them or treat them. Treat yourself with care mentally and physically, learn ways to decrease stress and if some unexplained sensation persists for weeks then speak to your doctor.

Many panic attacks do not have to happen

You can avoid many panic attacks if you can learn to change the way you think. Anticipating your anxiety, or worrying that you will become anxious can lead to panic attacks by focusing too much on the future (what ifs), focusing too much on the body (sensations) and then exaggerating how immediately dangerous it all is. Stay in the present and believe in your ability to cope.

Most people are not against you

Of course, you cannot always count on the friendliness of friends and strangers, but at worst you are no more than a phone call away from another person. Sometimes if you simply start talking to people to distract yourself, or tell them your are ill or anxious, many people will take a minute to talk or help…if you tell them how they can help. Stop trying so hard to hide your symptoms, it will only isolate you.

Panic Disorder is a treatable problem

Don’t let pessimism and helplessness take over. Nearly 25% of the population will experience an anxiety disorder in the course of their lives. With treatment and a commitment to not settling for a disabled lifestyle, they go on to live happy and productive personal and professional lives. Keep fighting the urge to escape and avoid and learn to think realistically and confidently about your ability to cope.


Dealing With the Back-to-School Blues?

Parents have a lot on their plate: mortgage payments, healthcare, caring for elderly parents, raising kids, just to name a few. As the new school year approaches, they face additional stressors—paying for back-to-school supplies, clothes and possibly tuition. Many parents may also be worried about their children starting a new school, changing school districts, facing a more rigorous academic year or dealing with difficult social situations. Often the fear of the unknown—classmates, teachers, the school building—is the most stressful for family members, whether it’s the children hopping on the school bus or their parents who have to wave goodbye.

“The end of summer and the beginning of a new school year can be a stressful time for parents and children,” says psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD. “While trying to manage work and the household, parents can sometimes overlook their children’s feelings of nervousness or anxiety as school begins. Working with your children to build resilience and manage their emotions can be beneficial for the psychological health of the whole family.”
Fortunately, children are extremely capable of coping with change and parents can help them in the process by providing a setting that fosters resilience and encourages them to share and express their feelings about returning to school.

APA offers the following back-to-school tips:

1. Practice the first day of school routine: Getting into a sleep routine before the first week of school will aide in easing the shock of waking up early. Organizing things at home—backpack, binder, lunchbox or cafeteria money—will help make the first morning go smoothly. Having healthy, yet kid-friendly lunches will help keep them energized throughout the day. Also, walking through the building and visiting your child’s locker and classroom will help ease anxiety of the unknown.

2. Get to know your neighbors: If your child is starting a new school, walk around your block and get to know the neighborhood children. Try and set up a play date, or, for an older child, find out where neighborhood kids might go to safely hang out, like the community pool, recreation center or park.

3. Talk to your child: Asking your children about their fears or worries about going back to school will help them share their burden. Inquire as to what they liked about their previous school or grade and see how those positives can be incorporated into their new experience.

4. Empathize with your children: Change can be difficult, but also exciting. Let your children know that you are aware of what they’re going through and that you will be there to help them in the process. Nerves are normal, but highlight that not everything that is different is necessarily bad. It is important to encourage your children to face their fears instead of falling in to the trap of encouraging avoidance.

5. Get involved and ask for help: Knowledge of the school and the community will better equip you to understand your child’s surroundings and the transition he or she is undergoing. Meeting members of your community and school will foster support for both you and your child. If you feel the stress of the school year is too much for you and your child to handle on your own, seeking expert advice from a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, will help you better manage and cope.

Special thanks to Dr. Mary Alvord for her help with this article
Source: American Psychological Association