To a certain degree, most people experience a mild bit of panic during every day life. For example, if you have to give a speech, you may be anxious about not embarrassing yourself or not forgetting the speech material. If you are starting a new job, you may be anxious about making a good impression and may worry about learning new procedures. If you are going out on a first date, you may worry about how you look or if you’ll like the person you are dating. But, many people routinely suffer from panic or anxiety that keeps them from living a “normal” life. If you are one of the more than 6 million Americans who frequently experience an overwhelming degree of anxiety, you may need help for your anxiety and panic attacks.
The first thing to do after experiencing a panic attack is to go through a medical evaluation so physical conditions can be ruled out as the cause of the panic attack. Thyroid disorders, anemia, pheochromocytoma, heart problems, fluctuating hormones caused by pregnancy or menopause, too much nicotine or caffeine, and certain medications can cause symptoms similar to panic attacks. The physical symptoms of a panic attack include a sense of impending doom combined with a pounding and rapid heart beat, sweating, shakiness or dizziness, a feeling of shortness of breath or hyperventilating, and sometimes either chills or flushing. The sense of panic during an attack is increased by the knowledge that these same symptoms can be signs of more serious conditions, such as a heart attack, which raises the person’s level of anxiety.Although scientists aren’t sure what causes true panic attacks, they suspect that they may be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Also panic attacks can be an inherited condition. Many times there is no physical reason for an attack, but it is best to get medical help to rule out physical causes first when taking steps to get help for anxiety and panic attacks.
If you routinely experience several of these symptoms, you may be living with an anxiety disorder:
- Do you feel like every day experiences make you anxious (driving, social interactions, etc)?
- Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school, or family responsibilities?
- Do you experience fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake?
- Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things aren’t done a certain way?
- Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
- Do you feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner?
So, how can you get help for anxiety and panic attacks? Sometimes you can get relief through natural methods and sometimes you need to seek help through counseling and medication. If the natural route is what you would like to try first, you should think about learning and practicing tai chi, yoga, or meditation to help you relax and reduce stress. Healthy eating habits and an exercise program can also help to reduce the stress of the day. Deep breathing exercises practiced during stressful times of the day (the commute, after a talk with the boss, etc) can help calm and center your mind.
If these techniques are not enough to provide help for your panic attacks and anxiety, counseling and medication are an important next step. Find a therapist who has experience in dealing withpanic attacks and can provide help for your anxiety. Treatment such as cognitive behavior therapy can alleviate or eliminate panic attacks for many people. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you change the way you “see” things and helps you alter behaviors that contribute to panic attacks or keeps them going. It helps you see your fears more realistically. Exposure therapy can also help you with panic attacks and anxiety. This type of therapy mimics the sensations you feel when you have a panic attack. For example, you might hold your breath or be asked to hyperventilate with a counselor present and while in a safe environment. In this way, you can learn how to cope with the feelings you experience so that you have more control over the sensations and your reaction to them.
Anti-anxiety medications can also help for anxiety and panic attacks. Dr. Darvin Hege provides help for panic attacks in the Atlanta area. Dr. Hege most commonly prescribes Xanax XR, Klonopin, Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Effexor, or Cymbalta. For more information from Dr. Hege about panic attacks and the most effective medications for anxiety and panic attacks, go to the Panic Attacks Information page on his website.
Dr. Hege has 25 years of experience dealing with patients who need help for anxiety and panic attacks. Call him today at 770-458-0007 for an evaluation for relief of your panic, and for help deciding the most effective and safest treatment for your anxiety attacks.