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    sarah posted an update 7 years, 10 months ago

    Anyone have any ideas on how to cope with panic attacks, because mine are getting worse and worse and are slowly eating up my social life…

    Mood : Depressed
    • Try to relax, calm yourself and take deep breathes @lifeincolour, maybe doing some exercises like Yoga will help, focus on the happy and positive things in your life, do things that make you feel content, watch your favourite movie, play a game or take a walk outside, I want to see you feeling good Sarah, you will make it through this, don’t give up, I’ll always be here if you need to chat, message me anytime, my inbox is always open, stay strong, you are never alone :) (hugs)

    • Here are some psychological techniques to dealing with panic attacks both in the moment and afterwards to attempt to prevent them later.

      To start, when you are in a panic attack, breathe. Focus on your breathing, making sure you’re breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. For some people that’s not enough to calm down. If it isn’t working, there are a couple of options. One, physically make a motion like putting your hand in a stop motion or making a clap and tell yourself ”stop” or ”that’s enough, I’m okay, everything is fine”. Sometimes the physical motion or telling yourself to quit or that you’re alright, can assist you in calming down. Two, begin doing progressive muscle relaxation. To do this, you start higher up on your body and work your way down. First you tighten the muscle and hold it, count to ten, then release the muscles and shake it off. Move to the next muscle and the next, repeating this until your whole body is relaxed and tired. This method can help you control and calm yourself from a panic attack by physically calming your body down. Three, visualization often is helpful as well. Close your eyes, relax your entire body, and begin breathing slowly. Imagine something positive, like imagining that as you breathe in, you are breathing in healing energy and as you breathe out that you are expelling dark anxiety.

    • Now lets talk about some correctional measures to try to prevent panic attacks in the future. Here are a few things you can do that are actual Cognitive Behavioral Techniques.

      One, be aware of your triggers. Learn what is setting you off, whether that be visual, audio, thoughts, situations, feelings, etc. Learn to recognize the signs in advance that an attack is coming.

      Two, change your thoughts. When you find yourself thinking something negative that might trigger you, tell yourself that you’re okay or that that thought isn’t true. For example, if you think ”I’m the worst person who ever lived”, stop yourself physically and then tell yourself ”that’s not true, there are probably lots of worse people out there, I’m not bad really”. Or if you find yourself thinking about negative things, try locating something positive to think on. Contemplate a beloved pet or someone in your life who has done something nice for you. I know when we’re down it’s hard to think that anyone loves us but consider that people don’t have to do anything for us. They do because they care. So latch onto something someone has said that was nice to you or done for you that was kind. If you need to, carry these thoughts around in your pocket on a piece of paper. Whenever you find yourself thinking of negative things, pull out this list of possible good thoughts and start contemplating a few of those instead. Like if you’re tearing yourself up over getting a bad test grade, thinking ”okay so I didn’t do as well as I’d like on this test, however, I got a really good grade in my [whatever] class, life is all about balance”.

      Three, try some cognitive behavioral therapy on yourself. Track your behavior. For example, when you have a panic attack, get it under control and whenever you can, write it down. Write down everything that happened right before the attack and everything that happened right after the attack. Include how you felt, what occurred, etc. This will help you find your triggers if you don’t know them. Then take a look at the logs you’ve made and see what common denominators are happening. Acknowledge that these are triggers and then decide what to do with that information.

    • You have a couple of options. You could avoid your triggers. Depending on what they are or what that might do to your life to avoid them, that might not be a great option. For instance, if your trigger is going outside… well that’s not helpful at all to stay indoors constantly, it would ruin your life. So that wouldn’t be an option. But if your trigger was spiders… that can mostly be avoided on a day to day instance and managing the attacks when you do run into them might be more worthwhile than treating the trigger.

      Optionally, you could begin to deal with the trigger through cognitive behavioral therapy. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, I’d recommend getting a CBT trained therapist to do the job. The wonderful thing about CBT is that it only takes months what talk therapy takes years to accomplish. It’s quick and highly effective. If you need more information on getting professional treatment, let me know I’ll be happy to help. On a side, I’ll give you some pointers of doing CBT on yourself based on the limited amount of it that I learned already. Generally you want to remove as many triggers as you can to affect behavioral change. In part, this is what I was telling you to do earlier about changing your thought pattern. Thoughts can trigger anxiety and panic attacks, by recognizing that we’re having that thought and adjusting it, we’re removing that trigger. If a trigger is physical or situational in nature, it can get a little more complicated. Without having any knowledge of your situation, I can only give you very general advice. With that said, you generally want to do substitution or incompatibility. For example, if you wanted to quit smoking, you could do substitution and start sucking on lollipops every time you wanted a cigarette. It would give you something to hold and something in your mouth that would satisfy those elements of the habit if not the addiction itself. Same if you wanted to give up drinking soda, you’d find a substitute like tea. Incompatible actions are things like… if I wanted to quit smoking, I would pick an activity that is completely incompatible with smoking. Like going scuba diving. I can’t smoke under water, therefore these actions are incompatible and doing the incompatible one whenever I have a smoking urge would prevent me from giving into it.

      Another method of CBT is desensitization. Again, you may want to consult a professional. However, it is possible to walk yourself through desensitization. Think about movies and tv shows today… they can be awfully sexual and awfully gory. We’re desensitized to those things because we see them all the time. That’s the general idea of what you’re going to do to yourself. For example, if I want to desensitize myself to spiders, I first start by writing down a list of things like so: pictures of spiders, talking about spiders, seeing a real spider, singing the itsy bitsy spider song, cartoon spiders, touching a spider. Then I would organize those things into which one bothers me from least to most. Which causes the least anxiety and which would cause me the most. Then I start with the least. So say the least is singing ”itsy bitsy spider”, I will sing as much of it as I can, then go through the techniques to calm myself down. I do that on and off for a while until it’s easy to sing it. Then I move up to the next anxiety inducing thing. Cartoon spiders. Then I’ll watch cartoon spiders and calm myself down. Etc. Rinse and repeat until I can get up to a point where I manage to handle a live spider. That’s the basic idea of desensitization.