It is certainly not easy dealing with anxiety and panic attacks regardless if it’s you or a loved one who is suffering from this. You may find yourself wondering what the triggers could be and analyze whether these feelings of fears you are experiencing will be considered “real” enough to validate treatment.
It is important to know that anxiety disorders are real disorders. They are real health problems with real treatments and cures available.
There are quite a few theories on the causes of anxiety and panic attacks and a conclusive reason has not yet been brought to the table regarding this. We summarize a few of these theories below.
Top Causes of Anxiety Disorders and Panic Attacks – A Closer Look
It is important to remember that panic and anxiety disorders themselves are NOT hereditary, however, scientists have theorized that genetics may play a role in certain factors that determine brain chemistry and that a person can be predisposed to these disorders based on certain genetic factors that ARE hereditary.
If someone has a few genetic markers that make their brain chemistry more susceptible to an anxiety disorder and their environment also supports anxiety they may ultimately end up suffering from panic attacks. However, with the same brain chemistry markers in a different environment, the person may never experience an anxiety or panic attack in their life.
We all know that stress cannot be avoided. It is a necessary defense mechanism for the body and can also help you to perform better under certain circumstances. It is when the stress becomes chronic that you need to start taking heed as stress can wear down a person’s systems to the point where it becomes dangerous for both your physical and mental states and may lead to you having an anxiety disorder and panic attacks.
Read AnxietyPanda’s post on the effects of stress on anxiety by clicking here!
Negative self-talk and an overactive imagination can turn into a serious anxiety disorder, just ask a Panda! It’s very easy to allow yourself to imagine the worst case scenario for anything. Once you’ve embraced that worst case scenario inside your mind, your body begins to react. You can make your heart pound, your palms sweat, and your stomach clench and even bring yourself to the point of throwing up just thinking about all the horrific things that can happen to you or your loved ones.
On the contrary, you can choose to think about positive experiences instead! Silver linings and best case scenarios at ALL times, until proven contrary with valid concrete facts – not based on what your mind is trying to feed you! Sometimes the mindset habits we adopt can cause us to sink into serious anxiety and it is so important to address this immediately in order to ensure your wellbeing and happiness.
Some scientists have drawn a link between magnesium deficiency and anxiety disorders. And we know that vitamin D plays an important role in emotion and mood. If you’re not getting in your 5 fruits and veggies per day, please be sure to supplement with a multi-vitamin. Even better – get into the habit of taking your daily Wheatgrass shot – the health benefits are endless, and just one little shot per day can give you the equivalent nutrition of about 2 pounds of those lovely green, leafy vegetables or fruit we all should be consuming on a daily basis!
5. Brain chemistry
Our brains are probably the most complicated organ of them all. A run around the block can produce enough endorphins for one person to stay happy and positive for days, while another person may experience little to no endorphin release at all.
Stimulants, like alcohol or caffeine, but also nutrition, genetics, and exercise all play a role in brain chemistry. When the right combination of events is coupled with a susceptible brain chemistry, it can provoke a panic attack. They can come right out of nowhere and render a person helpless and filled with abnormal fear levels. But, there is light! The good news is that diet and nutrition are easier to control than genetics and there are steps you can take immediately to help you get back on track in that department. And medication can control brain chemistry – there are natural treatments available, and you don’t have to walk around like a medicated zombie if you don’t need too.
Signs and symptoms of a Panic Attack – Watch out for these!
Panic attacks can be one of the most disturbing and scariest events in a person’s life. They can leave you confused, worried about your sanity and fearing another panic attack, and that’s putting it lightly!
Before we take a look at the signs and symptoms of panic attacks, AnxietyPanda wants you to know that if you suffer from panic attacks, it’s completely normal and please don’t ever feel that you are the only person experiencing this or that there is no hope left for you. Millions of people around the world suffer from panic attacks. You’re not going crazy and they are treatable. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Reach out.
You could be having a panic attack if you experience a combination of the following symptoms:
* You struggle to breathe. When you’re having a panic attack it may feel as if someone is sitting on your chest. You cannot take a deep breath and it feels like you are suffocating.
* You begin to sweat. People who suffer from panic attacks often say they break out in a cold sweat. They may feel chills or feel quite warm as well, it’s different for everyone.
* You feel stomach upset. This isn’t always a sign or symptom, however, it’s common enough to make note of. If you suddenly feel sick to your stomach combined with the other symptoms we’ve mentioned then you may be suffering from a panic attack. You may feel nauseated or simply have an upset stomach.
* You feel dizzy or lightheaded. This symptom almost always forms part of a panic attack.
* You feel disconnected – as if you’re disconnected from your body. You feel extremely out of control. It feels as if reality has been suspended like you’re dreaming. The walls or the surrounding space may become wavy or unfocused or feel like they’re starting to close in on you. The lighting around you may feel as if it has changed. A sound may take on a distorted effect. It’s all pretty scary if you don’t know what is happening to you! This symptom is extremely common of a panic attack.
* Your heart suddenly starts pounding really hard for no apparent reason. People who suffer a panic attack often say they feel as if they might be having a heart attack as it often also involves a heavy chest pain. AnxietyPanda Warning! Panic attacks and heart attacks share very similar symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, pounding heart). It’s very important for you to get checked out by a doctor if you’ve experienced any of these symptoms.
Effective Treatments for Panic and Anxiety
Anxiety and panic disorders ARE treatable when properly diagnosed. And a diagnosis puts you back in control. Panic attacks don’t often come with telltale signs or triggers that they’re going to occur but you can learn to control and even avoid them and never have a panic attack again!
There are many treatment options that deliver varying degrees of relief from panic and anxiety. Let’s take a look at the most common treatments for panic and anxiety.
AnxietyPanda is NOT a fan of modern medicine due to the many side effects, the addiction-factor, and the fact that these medicines only really treat the symptoms and you never learn to cope with things. But, medication is a common way to treat panic and anxiety so it will be mentioned here. There are three different types of medications you may be put on. They are:
* Mood stabilizers – like Lithium
* Antidepressants – like Prozac
* Benzodiazepines – like Valium
AnxietyPanda is a huge fan of therapy, and especially psychotherapy. There are no side effects and you learn to manage and mostly even eliminate anxiety or panic attacks from your life as the therapist will help you gain the necessary skills you need to handle these situations yourself, which will, in turn, offer a more permanent and safer solution than medication. Not to mention the confidence boost for being able to take care of yourself!
There are many varieties of therapy, often prescribed along with medication. Much of your decision about the type of therapy will depend on your specific symptoms and diagnosis. For example, if you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, then a psychotherapist would be recommended to help you cope with the trauma. If you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, behavioral therapy may be recommended. For Panic attacks, cognitive behavioral therapy is highly recommended.
3. Diet and Exercise
It is easy to forget that nutrition and exercise play a very powerful role in the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. There are stimulants, like caffeine and alcohol, that can make a condition worse. And then there are nutrients like fish oil, magnesium, and vitamin D which can help alleviate the symptoms and the occurrence of anxiety or panic attacks.
And then there’s exercise. It helps optimize your body’s systems – including your brain chemistry! Simply getting outside for 20 minutes each day and taking a walk can have a dramatic effect on anxiety and panic symptoms. If you’re scared to be out on your own, ask someone you trust to tag along! You’ll both benefit from the social bonding, Vitamin D from the sun, and body health from the exercise and fresh air.
4. Self Care
Recently, AnxietyPanda heard a powerful testimonial from a CalmPanda on the positive effects of meditation and employing the powers of your own mind to overcome your conditions. Having applied these methods herself, although not so much for panic attacks, AnxietyPanda knows firsthand that this is not just some hibby jibby.
Never underestimate the power of your own self. Focus your attention on more positive thoughts and actions. There are many relaxation techniques, like meditation and visualization, that you can apply and there are many free resources available online. You will also find self-help books, and even free ones, online videos and lots of informational websites filled with information and advice on a variety of disorders. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Help is Within Reach
Don’t let these conditions control your life. Take that step and get that diagnosis or ask for help.
Sometimes all it takes is a few lifestyle changes and a few learned coping mechanisms to live panic and anxiety free. Dealing with anxiety and panic attacks can be easy peasy 😉
Reach out. Let us know in the comments if you want to share your advice or experiences with living with panic disorder.