Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal emotion. Many people feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders are different, though. They can cause such distress that it interferes with your ability to lead a normal life.
This type of disorder is a serious mental illness. For people who have one, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be disabling. But with treatment, many people can manage those feelings and get back to a fulfilling life.
Today I experienced a major trigger. My heart started racing, I became nauseous, had muscle tension, my head got tingly, I started to sweat, my thoughts were running wild, basically I had a panic/anxiety attack. As time has gone by, I have identified a few of my triggers. I have tried over the years to become as self-aware as possible. This time I saw it coming.
Unfortunately, there is little I could do about it as I was at work. Not an opportune time for this to happen. Trying to hide it was damn near impossible. These attacks can be debilitating and an annoyance.
I try to calm myself down with positive affirmations and I took my anxiety pill, Ativan to help minimize my symptoms. Luckily my medication takes a mere 15-30 minutes to take effect. For this I feel blessed, as I know I will soon get control of my anxiety.
There are a few tips for managing a panic/anxiety attack:
- Immediately take your anxiety medication (if you have it)
- Keep a list of people you can contact with you at all times, to be prepared for a moment to occur
- Breathe into a paper bag to try to control your breathing
- Discontinue/minimize caffeine intake, as this can fuel your symptoms
- If you feel necessary, contact your psychiatrist for guidance or possibility asking to see if a prescription for an anxiety medication is right for you
- Contact your therapist to help talk you down, or maybe set-up an appointment to be see right away
- Call a trusted friend or family member to help guide you through
- Try grounding techniques. This will guide you through the panic and help calm you down. If you don’t know of any contact your therapist for assistance
- Try taking a walk to help clear your thoughts
- Turn on some music to distract from the moment
- Try to find a small achievable activity like gardening or doing dishes to help distract your attention
- If you’re at work, try to take a brief break and contact someone (family/friend) you can call to help calm you down
- If you find panic/anxiety attacks are becoming more frequent, keep a log to share with your psychiatrist and therapist to help you find better resources to handling them.
Anxiety/panic attacks never come at an opportune time. But the more your prepared the less intrusive they become. There will be some days you will find it necessary to leave work for the day or find that your day just isn’t going to be as productive. Don’t beat yourself up over it. We are all human and regardless of our diagnosis, all we can do is try our best.
The best you can do is to try an be prepared, and ask for help when you need it.