Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attacks

It's my professional opinion that the best treatment for anxiety is a combination of medication, cognitive behavioral therapy and Christian Counseling. For those taking anti-anxiety medications and also for those suffering from anxiety and who don't wish to take medications, I can often help in the following ways: I can help you identify anxiety triggers and lessen their control, I can teach a variety of relaxation techniques, I can educate you and your family about anxiety, I can help you replace negative self talk with positive coping self talk, I can teach you how to deal with anxiety's symptoms, and teach you how to manage stress.
Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Examples include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Anxiety Links

Anxiety Social Net
Answers to Your Questions About Panic Disorder
National Center for PTSD
Obsessive Compulsive Information Center Calm Clinic

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety is a normal part of life. You might worry about things like work, money, or family problems. But people with generalized anxiety disorder feel extremely worried or feel nervous about these and other things. Even when there isn’t reason to worry about them. People with generalized anxiety disorder display excessive anxiety or worry for months and face several anxiety-related symptoms. People with anxiety generally find it difficult to control their anxiety or staying focused on daily tasks.  For example:

Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge Being easily fatigued Difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank Irritability Muscle tension Difficulty controlling the worry Worry very much about everyday things Have trouble controlling their worries or feelings of nervousness Know that they worry much more than they should Feel restless and have trouble relaxing Have a hard time concentrating Are easily startled Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep Feel easily tired or tired all the time Have headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches, or unexplained pains Have a hard time swallowing Tremble or twitch Be irritable or feel “on edge” Sweat a lot, feel light-headed or out of breath Have to go to the bathroom a lot

The good news is that Generalized Anxiety Disorder is treatable. Make and appointment with your doctor or to talk with a counselor. Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and they are often worse during times of stress. Those with Generalized Anxiety Disorder are often excessively nervous about everyday circumstances.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. Make and appointment to talk with a mental health professional about your symptoms.

Panic Attacks    

People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate, sweating, depersonalization, trembling or shaking, sensations of shortness of breath, derealization, smothering, or choking, and fear of death.

These panic or anxiety attacks occur at unpredictable times with no obvious trigger. This causes those burdened with panic disorders to worry about the possibility of having another panic attack at any random time. Some who suffer with panic attacks carry their prescribed anti-anxiety medications with them wherever they go. They say that having the medication with them at all times quells their worry about having a panic attack because when they feel a panic attack starting they can simply take their medication to prevent the panic attack. 

People with panic attacks have sudden and repeated attacks of fear that last for several minutes or longer. Panic attacks are characterized by a fear of disaster or of losing control even when there is no real danger. A person may also have a strong physical reaction during a panic attack. It may feel like having a heart attack. Panic attacks can occur at any time, and many people who suffer with panic attacks worry about the possibility of having another attack.

Left untreated, panic attacks can lower your quality of life because it can lead to other fears and mental health disorders. Sometimes a person with panic disorder can’t carry out normal routines like going to work or driving. 

Panic disorder is generally treated with counseling and/or medication.  

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder is much more than just being shy.

Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition. It is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and every day activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. But social anxiety doesn’t have to stop anyone from living a fulfilled life. Treatment can help you overcome your symptoms.

Social anxiety disorder is a common anxiety disorder. A person with social anxiety disorder feels symptoms of anxiety or fear in certain or all social situations, such as meeting new people, dating, being on a job interview or having to talk to a cashier in a store. Doing everyday things in front of people causes anxiety or fear. The suffer of social anxiety is afraid that they will be humiliated, judged, or rejected.

The fear that people with social anxiety disorder have in social situations is so strong that they feel it is beyond their ability to control. So, it gets in the way of going to work or doing everyday things. People with social anxiety disorder often worry about these and other things for weeks before they happen. Sometimes, they end up staying away from places or events because they think they might have to do something that will embarrass them.

Some people with the disorder don’t have anxiety in social situations but have performance anxiety instead. They feel physical symptoms of anxiety in situations such as giving a speech, playing a sports game, or being on stage.

When having to perform in front of others people with social anxiety disorder tend to show the following physical symptoms - THEY:

Blush, sweat, tremble, feel a rapid heart rate, or feel their mind goes blank. Feel nauseous or sick to their stomach. Show a rigid body posture, make little eye contact, or speak with an overly soft voice. Find it scary and difficult to be with other people, especially those they don’t already know. Have a hard time talking to them even though they wish they could. Are very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed and awkward. Are very afraid that other people will judge them. Stay away from places where there are other people.

Social anxiety disorder has the following behavioral symptoms which include - THEY: 

Feel highly anxious about being with other people and having a hard time talking to them.

Feeling very self-conscious in front of other people and worried about being embarrassed, humiliated, rejected, or fearful of offending others.

Are very afraid that other people will judge them.

Worrying for days or weeks before an event where other people will be.

Staying away from places where there are other people.

Having a hard time making friends and keeping friends.

Blushing, sweating, or trembling around other people.

When Stress turns to Distress

We all feel stressed from time to time and stress affects everyone to some degree and some people more resilient and better at handling their stress than others. Some people may cope with stress more effectively or recover from stressful events more quickly than others. 

There are different types of stress, all of which carry physical and mental health risks. A stressor may be a one time or short term occurrence, or it can be an occurrence that keeps happening over a long period of time.

Stress can affect health. Stress can cause high blood pressure, and even heart attacks. It is important to know how to deal with stressful events so that you know when to seek help.

Examples of stress include:

Routine stress related to the pressures of work, school, family and other daily responsibilities.

Stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce or illness.

Traumatic stress experienced in an event like a major accident, war, assault, or a tornado.

Different people may feel stress in different ways. For example, some people experience mainly digestive symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome, while others may have headaches, insomnia, depression, anger or irritability..

Routine stress may be the hardest type of stress to notice at first. Because the source of the stress tends to be more constant than in cases of traumatic stress, the body gets no clear signal to return to normal functioning. Over time, continued strain on your body from routine stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, as well as mental disorders like depression or anxiety.

The effects of stress tend to build up over time. Taking practical steps to manage stress can reduce or prevent these effects. The following are some tips that may help to cope with stress:

Recognize the signs of your body's response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy.

Learn some stress management techniques. Get regular exercise. Just simply walking 20-30 minutes per day can help boost your mood and reduce stress. Take a walk on a beach or in a park. It is reasonable that these practices have anti anxiety value. Stay connected with friends and family for emotional support. To reduce stress get help from religious organizations.

Try other relaxing activities. Schedule regular times for relaxing activities. Explore stress coping programs. Pray more. Learn to say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload. Stress management techniques can help people with anxiety disorders calm themselves and even enhance the effects of therapy.

If you’re overwhelmed by stress talk with your family doctor or make an appointment to see a mental health professional like a counselor or psychiatrist. 

WARNING - Caffeine, street drugs, and even some over the counter medications can worsen anxiety.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental health problem in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) which they feel an urge to repeat over and over. Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels compelled to do in response to an obsessive thought.

People with OCD may have symptoms of obsessions and/or both. These symptoms can interfere with all aspects of their lives, like work, school, and personal relationships. 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorders symptoms include:

Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off.

Fear of germs or contamination.

Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm.

Excessive cleaning and/or hand washing.

Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way.

Compulsive counting.

Aggressive thoughts towards others or self.

Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order.

A person with OCD generally:

Can't control his or her thoughts or behaviors, even when those thoughts or behaviors are recognized as excessive.

Spends at least 1 hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors.

Doesn’t get pleasure when performing the behaviors or rituals, but can sometimes feel relief from the anxiety caused by the thoughts.

Experiences significant problems in their daily life due to these thoughts or behaviors.

Some individuals with OCD also have a tic disorder. Motor tics are sudden, brief, repetitive movements, such as eye blinking and other eye movements, facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging, and head or shoulder jerking. Common vocal tics include repetitive throat-clearing, sniffing, or grunting sounds.

Symptoms may come and go, ease over time, or worsen. People with OCD may try to help themselves by avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions, or they may use alcohol or drugs to self medicate.  Although most adults with OCD recognize that what they are doing doesn’t make sense, some adults and most children have very little insight and don’t realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary.

The causes of OCD aren’t actually unknown, but risk factors include a combination of genetics, brain anatomy and physiology, and environment. See Scrupulosity- a quasi spiritual. People who have experienced physical or sexual abuse in childhood or other trauma are at an increased risk for developing OCD.

OCD is typically treated with medication, counseling or a combination of the two. Although most patients with OCD respond to treatment, some patients continue to experience symptoms.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.

It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split second hormonal changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. The fight or flight response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience some reaction after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. 

Not every traumatized person develops chronic or even short term acute PTSD. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some experiences, like the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one, can also cause PTSD. Symptoms usually begin early, within 3 months of the traumatic incident, but sometimes they begin years afterward. Symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work in order to be considered PTSD. The course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes very long term.

People with PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.

PTSD symptoms include:

Re-experiencing symptoms include:

    Flashbacks     Bad dreams     Having angry outbursts     Frightening thoughts     Feeling on edge or tense     Distorted feelings     Loss of interest in enjoyable activities     Easily triggered startle response        Sleep problems     Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event     Negative thoughts about oneself  PTSD is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, anxiety or other mental health problems

Children and teens can have PTSD, but their symptoms may not be the same as adults.

    Bed wetting after they have been potty trained     Forgetting how to talk     Acting out the scary event during playtime or in play therapy     Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult     They may also develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors.

Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people develop PTSD vicariously, after a friend or family member experiences danger or harm. But it’s important to remember that not everyone who lives through a dangerous event develops PTSD. In fact, most people will not develop the disorder.

Risk factors make a person more likely to develop PTSD, while resilience factors can help reduce the risk of the disorder.

Some factors that increase risk for PTSD include:

    Living through dangerous events and traumas     Getting hurt     Seeing another person hurt, or seeing a dead body     Childhood trauma     Feeling horror, helplessness, or extreme fear     Having little or no social support after the event     Dealing with extra stress after the event, such as loss of a loved one, pain and injury, or loss of a job or home     Having a history of mental illness or substance abuse

Some resilience factors that may reduce the risk of PTSD include:

    Seeking out support from other people, such as friends and family     Finding a support group after a traumatic event     Learning to feel good about one’s own actions in the face of danger     Having a positive coping strategy, or a way of getting through the bad event and learning from it     Being able to act and respond effectively despite feeling fear

The main treatments for people with PTSD are medications and counseling, often both. 

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