How to Cope With Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Panic and anxiety are natural human emotions that everybody experiences. Whether you have an important presentation to give in front of a lot of people, or you get put on the spot in a social setting, almost everyone feels anxiety or panic at certain moments in their lives. However, there is a point where these natural human emotions cross a threshold and become serious medical problems. Symptoms of serious anxiety or panic attacks include:

* Palpitations, sweating, or trembling
* Shortness of breath
* Sense of choking
* Chest pain
* Nausea
* Dizziness
* Numbness or tingling in the limbs
* Chills or hot flashes
* Loss of consciousness

These symptoms usually occur suddenly and may last up to ten minutes. Sometimes, the person having a panic attack may even claim to be having a heart attack or feel like death is imminent. Anxiety and panic attacks are scary, but also very treatable. By recognizing the problem and seeking the correct help, people who suffer from anxiety or panic attacks can lead perfectly normal lives.

Seek a Professional Opinion

People often say they have panic attacks, when in reality they are simply having a natural feeling of anxiety. The only way to accurately diagnose an anxiety or panic disorder is through medical professionals like a general practitioner or psychiatrist. Most mental health diagnoses begin with a physical and mental evaluation of the patient. By combining information received about the patient's physical symptoms with behavioral observations made through an interview, psychiatrists will be able to give an accurate diagnosis for the patient.

The standard manual that most mental health professionals use when deciding on a diagnosis for a patient is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder. The most common diagnoses for anxiety and panic disorders include:

* Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
* Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
* Social anxiety disorder
* Specific phobias
* Generalized anxiety disorder

Find an Effective Treatment

Once a diagnosis has been made, the psychiatrist or doctor will assign appropriate treatment for the patient. However, because every individual case is unique, there is no universal cure for an anxiety or panic disorder. Antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and atypical antipsychotic medicines are all different medications doctors may prescribe for patients.

In addition to prescription medicines, a doctor may suggest psychotherapy for a patient. By going through therapy, a patient will learn how to understand and recognize their disorder. They will learn coping strategies and find ways to identify the problems or situations that trigger attacks. It's important to note that treatment for an individual may change courses multiple times, depending on how well the patient responds to the medicine, therapy, or combinations of the two.

Moving on From Anxiety and Panic

Once a patient has gone through treatment, they will discover that they have better control over their anxiety and panic attacks. While they may never be completely free of their disorder, patients will see a decrease in the frequency of attacks. A patient may find better ways to even out the stress in their life, rather than letting it compound into one terrifying moment. At work, this may mean keeping an organized calendar and recommending advance notice for assignments. Learning relaxation and breathing techniques is also vital when it comes to controlling an anxiety or panic disorder.

Also, a patient may find that participating in group therapy improves their condition. Especially for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and specific phobias, sharing stories and coping strategies can be extremely useful in their treatment. Probably the most important part of group therapy is the sense of camaraderie and recognizing that the individual patient is not alone. Anxiety and panic can be very isolating, so having a group of people who share similar problems and are willing to openly communicate about their struggles can be incredibly beneficial for a patient.

Peg Smith is an experienced writer who has written for a number of notable publications. As a lifestyle expert, Ms. Smith is able to offer advice and insight on a multitude of topics, including those pertaining to healthcare remedies (

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