How to Control A Panic Attack

Panic attacks are difficult to deal with if you don’t know the appropriate anxiety treatment.  I offer my services as a way to help you cope with anxiety and other similar situations that may make you feel uneasy.  

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How to control a panic attack

Panic attacks often happen as a result of certain situations.  This may be because of having to address a group of people, fear of speaking to the opposite sex, or dilemmas we can’t control.  You may start to feel an increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, irrational thoughts, or even feeling as though you’re going mad or dying.  Many people believe that the answer to a panic attack is to avoid the situations in which they’re trigged.  However, this may lead to isolation, social anxiety, and agoraphobia. 


The physical symptoms are a result of emotions being unconsciously repressed and physically somatized.  Quite commonly, people believe that there is something wrong with them for suffering an attack.  A panic attack is a psycho-physiological (mind-body) response to unresolved emotional needs.

Steps to overcome a panic attack

• Acceptance.  Accept the reality. In the moment, you have to accept this is happening but it will pass.
• Roll with the punches.  Don’t deny your emotions.
• Picture a surfer on a wave, the panic attack will swell and it will subside.
• Tell people. If there is someone you trust nearby, it will help calm you by simply letting them know.
• Learn a relaxation technique.  Relaxation and panic are incompatible.


If your panic attacks become severe, it is imperative to resolve the underlying issue.  Ongoing irrational stress and anxiety can have damaging effects on your body.

5 Steps to helping anxiety sufferers


Educate yourself – Gaining more understanding about anxiety and its symptoms, causes, and treatments can be a great starting point.  This will help you better understand what your loved one is going through.  It will also assist you in identifying for yourself the best ways of coping with it.

Become an active listener – Instead of trying to suggest solutions or advise, the best approach may be offering some neutral responses such as “I can see how that would upset you”, and let the other person feel heard and supported.


Don’t judge – Help them recognise that they can talk about their feelings openly, without any fear of judgment.

Set boundaries – Your loved one may continue to ask for accommodations such as having you drive them to places, staying at home with them, or wanting to talk to you frequently on the phone while you are at work.  While it is vital to provide them with as much comfort as you can to limit their feelings of being lost and alone, you should also remember that you can do things independently.  When responding to such requests, remain loving and empathetic, but at the same, time try to protect your boundaries.  Sometimes helping can be stopping helping.

Get active outdoors together - Try to spend more time outdoors being active.  Regular exercise is a well-known remedy for anxiety, as well as a great way of soothing built-up angst, nervousness, and low mood.

Anxiety and ambition

When the goals that propel you forward are thwarted, it's easy to give up.  If you try, there is a risk of failing, mediocrity, or not reaching the benchmark that you’ve set for yourself.  You may give it your best shot and still not make the money, gold, recognition of your peers, or your father’s approval.  Despite your utmost effort, the reward could potentially be humiliation.


If you can:

• Clarify your goals, eliminate your doubts, and pump up your own determination.
• Speak to the nagging, angst-laden voice inside.
• Then ask yourself “where and when have I experienced success”?
• Relive the experience, what’s the image?
• Hold onto that image. Is your anxiety fading yet?


Reducing anxiety allows your innate desire for fulfilment to kick in and function while lifting your spirits.  You can then turn to excelling again and reach your potential as far as possible.

Treating anxiety with therapy

Therapy is an effective way of overcoming anxiety disorders.  Unlike medications, it treats more than just the symptoms of the problem.  It can help you to uncover the underlying causes of your stress and fears, teach you how to relax, change your outlook on life in general, and develop practical coping techniques that will allow you to handle your emotions in a better way.

Supporting a loved one with anxiety

At some point in your life, you’re bound to experience nervousness or a sense of sadness.  In fact, anxiety is a natural and important part of our system, it serves to enhance vigilance and increase motivation.  However, if you’re suffering from ongoing or chronic anxiety, then it could be potentially harmful if not treated in an appropriate way.  Those who suffer from it on a daily basis find themselves unable to deal with stress, learn, or make decisions.


Anxiety is difficult for the sufferer.  But it’s almost equally as worrying and painful for the friends and family.  If someone close to you is struggling with anxiety, you may feel confused, tense, and distraught yourself.  You may find yourself unintentionally walking on eggshells because you’re afraid of causing more upset by saying or doing the wrong thing.  Perhaps the stress or tension of feeling stuck has caused a rift in your relationship.  Keep in mind that your support is crucial and there are steps you can take to help them feel better.

How anxiety affects physical health?

While it is natural for the pressures of day-to-day life to leave you feeling stressed or worried, some people experience a continuous feeling of anxiety, even in the absence of the need to fight or flee.  They live in a constant and unjustified fear or distress that can impact greatly on their daily lives.  Such excessive and ongoing worrying can, in fact, affect your body and lead to a physical illness. 


Research suggests that anxiety sufferers are at greater risk of developing certain medical conditions.  Although there is an ongoing dispute within the field of therapy, focused on ‘which comes first’, i.e. whether a prolonged physical illness can lead to anxiety, or whether medical conditions can be developed as a result of excessive worrying. 


Regardless of a chosen approach, one thing is certain; anxiety is strongly linked to some chronic medical conditions.


Thyroid disease (hyperthyroidism)

This medical condition may present itself as an anxiety syndrome, as it can significantly affect your mood.  Research shows that the more severe the thyroid disease, the more erratic your mood can be.  Those suffering from hyperthyroidism may experience unexplained nervousness, restlessness, or irritability.


Heart disease

Research shows that people who suffer from chronic heart disease have increased chances of anxiety disorders.  Similarly, those with heart arrhythmias have an increased prevalence of anxiety disorders.


Gastrointestinal conditions

Digestive problems are extremely common among those who suffer from anxiety.  The changes that impact on our digestion do not start in our stomach, but they start in our brains.  A number of studies highlights ‘gut-brain connection’.  Our gastrointestinal tract is very receptive to our emotions.  Strong feelings like anger, sadness, or anxiety have a power of triggering reactions in the gut.


Chronic respiratory disorders

Respiratory problems can be linked to anxiety.  Very often, there is nothing medically wrong with the patient’s lungs or heart, but they experience a strong sensation that makes them think that they suffer from respiratory problems.  Anxiety can have a direct impact on breathing patterns.  It can activate the fight or flight system, which pumps adrenaline into the blood stream.  Consequently, our breathing becomes faster. Anxiety can also lead to hyperventilation, also known as ‘over-breathing’. 

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Anxiety in eating disorders

Ask anyone, they’ll probably find something about their body that they don’t particularly like.  They may want to change or improve something about themselves, any many people do this by a healthy diet and exercise.  Unfortunately, some people may look for what they believe to be an improved body image in a much more destructive way.  Those suffering from eating disorders do it through inflicting a great deal of harm to their bodies and minds, often resulting in life-threatening or fatal consequences. 

Most patients with eating disorders will also encounter a level of anxiety at some point in their lives.  In 2004, a study reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry - which examined the relationship between anxiety and eating disorders – found that around 42% of those examined developed an anxiety disorder during childhood, long before their eating disorder symptoms occurred.  The link between anxiety and eating disorders emerges from the negative feelings of low self-esteem, fear of criticism, and lack of trust in other people that are core to both conditions. 
In cases where anxiety precedes an eating disorder, you may feel as though you’re in control.  However, I stress that this is a false feeling of hope.  And although this may temporarily relieve your anxiety, it is not a safe or effective long-term solution.  What has been also observed, is that anxiety sufferers tend to feel safest when they are alone, far away from potential judgment or criticism of others (whether perceived or factual).  

It is crucial to treat anxiety and an eating disorder simultaneously, as the two are closely related and common issues are addressed to heal the underlying factors associated with both disorders.  Due to its comprehensive character, psychotherapy is an effective way of achieving positive results.  It can help in learning healthier coping mechanisms for managing both anxiety and eating disorders.  It also allows the creation of a supportive space where you’re able to identify and understand the issue, as well as change your thinking and behavioural patterns.

How anxiety affects personal relationships

It appears that, in this day and age, the world seems to see body image as more important than mental wellbeing.  Magazines and television programmes seem to promote the importance of physical fitness.  And the crucial subject of mental health is often ignored.  In many cases, this means that important symptoms of mental disorders are overlooked, and people tend to assume that it’s simply down to stress or a bad mood.  


Unnoticed conditions of anxiety become worse over time, and will gradually have an effect on your personal relationships.  Observing yet ignoring the symptoms usually leads to a gradual breakdown of the relationship.  Understanding the condition and receiving support from friends and loved ones is absolutely crucial for the recovery of the person with an anxiety disorder.

Worry and suspicion
he worry that usually comes with anxiety is often unsubstantiated.  Nevertheless, sufferers cannot stop themselves from thinking that way.  This can affect a relationship in a number of ways.  It can lead to jealousy or suspicion, where although you know that your partner loves you, you continue to wonder what would happen if he or she were not faithful.  Such thoughts can easily lead to arguments and unnecessary ‘interrogations’, with both sides feeling frustrated and angry.  


Limited patience
Impatience often goes hand in hand with anxiety, affecting the person’s mental state and making them search for ‘immediate’ solutions in stressful situations.  Sufferers often struggle to maintain the harmony in their relationships, especially when it comes to finding the life-work balance.

An extensive need for reassurance
With increased worry in their day-to-day life, anxiety sufferers tend to require constant reassurance from loved ones, asking for more attention and more time together.  This may make people feel burdened, as a physical and an emotional space is a basic human need. Such intense expectations are very likely to lead to disappointment, and ultimately a failure of the relationship.

Magnified reactions
Anxiety sufferers often find themselves in situations whereby their general sense of insecurity, coupled with temper issues, can take over their usual ‘self’ and lead to overreaction and anger.  This can make them feel out of control and so overwhelmed by powerful emotions that they react in the heat of the moment, not thinking of the destructive consequences it can have on relationships . The partner at the receiving end, who may not be aware of the existence of a mental disorder, may simply feel too hurt to forgive and forget.

4 Effective ways for reducing anxiety

Anxiety is often overwhelming and not always easy to deal with.  As there are millions of people who struggle with anxiety on a daily basis, I believe that it’s important for us to do all we can to help those around us.  And although anxiety cannot be cured overnight, I have complied a list of helpful techniques that can be integrated into your daily life to calm yourself down in times of crisis.  


There are no instant or magic cures when it comes to overcoming anxiety.  However, learning some calming strategies, and most importantly, implementing them into your daily life, can greatly improve your long-term outlook.  

1. Control your breathing
Think about your breathing every time you get anxious - shallow breath contributes to panic.  On the other hand, more controlled, deep breathing is a powerful anxiety-reducing technique because it activates the body’s relaxation response.  Slow down your breathing and take a deep but gentle breath through your nose, trying to hold your breath for about 3-4 seconds.  Then breath out slowly through pursed lips as if you were whistling.


2. Accept and embrace the feeling of anxiety
Simply accepting that you are feeling anxious is critical to controlling your feelings.  Trying to eliminate the feeling of anxiety often worsen its symptoms.

3. Perform some simple aerobic routine
When you’re feeling anxious, exercising can make a big difference.  This is because it offers a number of advantages for controlling anxiety symptoms, such as:
- Release Endorphins that Improve Overall Mood
- Burn Away Stress Hormones
- Force Healthier Breathing
- Offer a Healthy Distraction

4. Talk to a friend
Contact someone you can trust, even if it is only over the phone.  Talking through and explaining your feelings to someone who knows you well can bring a lot of relief and will have a calming effect.

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Causes of anxiety

Much like many other mental health conditions, the exact cause of anxiety disorders isn't fully understood.  Studies show that anxiety often develops for no apparent reason, and it is often a combination of factors that contributes to anxiety. The most important thing is to recognise the signs of the condition and seek professional help.  The sooner you get help, the sooner you can recover.  There are some common external factors that can cause the condition, such as:


Inherited traits - To be precise, this could be your genetic makeup.  Recent studies show that the risk of anxiety tends to run in families.  However, the role of genetic influence versus the influence of the family environment remains unclear.

Personality traits – Studies suggest that people with certain personality traits are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder.  This applies, in particular, to children who strive for perfection, who are easily agitated, and those who want to control everything.

Major stress or trauma – Here, events such as abuse, the death of a loved one, or victimisation can trigger the condition.  Childhood traumas, in particular, may make one more prone to anxiety later on in life.

Substance abuse – There is a strong link between anxiety and excessive use of drugs and alcohol.  Anxiety sufferers may begin using medications to manage symptoms of anxiety, while those who are substance abusers are very likely to develop anxiety disorder as a result of their addiction.

3 a.m. Angst and aloneness

During the day, you may be busy and keeping your mind active and distracted from the feeling of anxiety.  However, when the clock strikes 3 a.m., the reeling of anxiousness, desolateness, powerlessness, emptiness rears its ugly head.  It’s during the night when many people find that they’re lonely and want to reach out to someone.  But who’ll be there to respond during the early hours?


The alleviation of aloneness and lessening of our angst is the sharing of that aloneness.  It cannot be eradicated, we are all separate, it is the human condition, a perceptual physical gap.  The gap between you and I is full of intense aloneness, but the sharing of that aloneness states at the spiritual level.  We are one!


When you fall prey to your internal attackers beating you with the imperative ‘you shall know no rest’, then challenge your internal dialogue and allow yourself to look at things differently.  Why are you denying yourself peace? Maybe, if you give yourself the freedom to look at your busy hours differently, you might relax at 3 a.m.  My suggestions for peace during the night are:


• Avoid stressful topics, learn what your triggers are.  Can you identify your stresses? Try keeping a diary to help find the patterns behind your stress.
• Welcome humour, watch a funny movie before bed.
• Don’t eat late, avoid too much coffee and alcohol.
• Remember to use the skills you use for daytime anxiety.
• Self-soothe, there are many forms - yoga, meditation, a massage, a hot bath.
• Daily exercise can help.
• Practise a breathing meditation, count slowly to 10, if necessary count to 20.
• Do your best, don’t aim for perfection, be proud of how close you get.
• Accept you can’t control everything, put the situation in perspective - is it as bad as you really think?
• Reframe your negative thoughts.
• Talk to someone, tell your friends and family you are overwhelmed.  Let them know how they can help you.
• Talk to your GP or therapist.

3 Ways to embrace anxiety

Anxiety – a feeling of your throat tightening, your heart racing, and your back becoming tense.  If this sounds familiar, you may be a sufferer of the mental disorder, much like many others.  But how do you cope with it? The natural reaction is to get as far away from it as possible, often resulting in drinking too much, frequent visits to the fridge, or simply avoidance and wasting hours of your time aimlessly surfing the internet.  Instead of trying to suppress anxiety or run away from it, why not welcome and befriend it?


The more time you spend on clarifying your feelings and emotions here and now, the calmer you will become.  You learn to remind yourself that this is just anxiety, and while it may not be ideal, it is certainly not intolerable.


According to the famous Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, anxiety is a very natural condition.  Soren believed that anxiety was a feeling that powers creativity instead of sabotaging it.  He described anxiety as a liberating possibility that should be embraced rather than suppressed.  In his own words “one would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever”.  I share this attitude, and my aim is to help others see it, too.  Here’s 3 ways in which you can turn anxiety into power:

1. Accept the reality
Face the feeling of anxiety and admit that you are feeling anxious.  Anxiety is just a feeling, like any other.  Realising that you are simply undergoing an emotional reaction makes it easier for you to accept it.  Once you accept and become more comfortable with this feeling, you can eliminate thoughts that worsen it.


2. Question your thoughts
Challenge the thought process that is running through your mind.  When we get anxious, we tend to develop most gloomy scenarios that are very unlikely to occur in reality.  Perhaps you are paralysed by the thought of delivering a presentation or giving a speech at a family gathering.  Ask yourself a few useful questions:
• Is my worry realistic?
• What’s the worst situation that may happen?
• How likely is it to happen, and what can you do to prepare for such situation?


3. Reframe anxiety as excitement
Public speaking, going through exams, attending a job interview, or performing in front of people – all of these situations can fill you with anxiety.  But instead of trying to suppress the feeling and forcing yourself to calm down, allow yourself to get excited.  Anxiety can be very debilitating when it leads to inaction.  To avoid that, focus on possibility, visualise the success and how you feel once the ‘testing time’ is over.  Turning your anxiety into excitement will help you to become a more persuasive and competent performer.