Working in an emergency room, I stumbled upon a certain statistic which made me very curious. Since 2011 there has been an 85% increase in the number of reported cases in Bellaire Emergency Room. This caught me by surprise and prompted me to dig deeper and find out if other emergency rooms in the country were experiencing similar amounts of cases of anxiety and panic attacks in America. Turns out, anxiety and panic attacks have become so common in emergency room in America. Actually, in 2015 alone, they accounted for more than 20% of all the emergency room visits in the country and this is staggering.
This is why I felt it right to do a piece on a anxiety and panic attacks, their causes, symptoms and most importantly, how to manage these panic and anxiety attacks. So, what are anxiety and panic attacks? How can one know when he/she is having a panic attack? How can you manage panic and anxiety attacks?
Anxiety and panic attacks
Anxiety is the state of being uneasy and generally worried. This is a feeling of fear combined with the emotion which is triggered by a certain physical sensation or fundamental mental thought of not being able to help yourself in certain situation. Panic attacks on the other hand are brought about by situations and incidents where one feels endangered or unable to escape. To some people however, panic attacks can result from just thought and too much thinking about certain problems they are facing in life. The idea of something bad happening to you in the near future triggers responses from your body. These responses are different in people and although some are able to remain calm and relaxed, others lose it and are overwhelmed by anxiety and fear. Some people experience recurrent panic attacks every time they are faced with specific situations or are supposed to carry out a certain activity like visit a dentist for example.
Signs and symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks
The signs and symptoms of panic attacks vary from one person to another. The intensity of the signs and symptoms is determined by the sort of response that the victim’s body gives when faced by certain specific situations. The most common symptoms of panic attacks include;
Increased heart beats where the heart palpitates
a weird choking feeling
a feeling of being detached from the surroundings
Some people will even pass stool or urinate on themselves during panic attacks because they are extremely shocked and lose it. Other people will have relatively mild symptoms. Such will only experience racing hearts and perhaps profuse sweating. The latter are able to cope with panic attacks more than those who have relatively extreme symptoms. If someone experiences panic attacks repeatedly then there is the possibility of panic disorder. If you are also worried about having another panic attack, then you need to report panic disorder to the nearest emergency room.
Diagnosis and treatment of panic attacks
There are three main treatment options available in emergency rooms for panic attacks. These are cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure therapy and medication treatment. In cognitive behavioural therapy, the thinking patterns and behaviours that trigger the panic attacks are addressed. The consequences of the situations are reviewed and the patient is made to believe that nothing disastrous will happen in the end and it’s just about fear. The moment the patient feels comfortable in these situations, they will be able to remain calm and relaxed if they are faced with similar situations in the future.
Use of therapy and medication
Anxiety is normally treated through a series of exposure therapy sessions in conjunction with medical prescriptions. Some medications such as the use of benzodiazepines and antidepressants which suppress the severity of the symptoms experienced.
How to manage anxiety and panic attacks
Learning the right techniques can help you get a grip on anxiety and panic attack and get the same under control. Here are quick tips to help you manage your anxiety and panic attacks better;
Understand your panic attacks- try and understand the triggers that are likely to cause the attacks and stay clear of the triggers. If darkness triggers anxiety in your life, always avoid dark alleys and stay in well lit room. If it is exams that cause the tension, then prepare adequately without thinking too much about the exams.
Calm your body down-The best way to control your panic attacks is to learn to calm your body down in situations of extreme anxiety. There are very many techniques which can help you achieve this. Breathe slowly without thinking too much about whatever it is that is causing you to panic. Relax your muscles and think positively. Within no time, the attacks will be gone and you will be fine.
Seek professional help-If you are finding it hard to control the anxiety and panic attacks consult a medical professional for tips and strategies to employ to calm your body down.
Remember, fear is just an illusion and worry has never killed anyone. Just be calm and you will overcome the panic and anxiety attacks.