Do you suffer from anxiety? Here’s how to identify the symptoms and tips to cope with them.
First, you have to understand that anxiety is a normal body reaction to stress or danger. It’s simply an automatic fight-or-flight body reaction towards threat, pressure, or challenge such as an exam or job interview. In moderation, it’s not a bad thing and can help you solve problems, stay focused and alert. However, when it’s overwhelming or constant, it turns into an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorder is a group of related mental conditions and not a single disorder hence varying symptoms. For instance, one person may suffer extreme anxiety attacks without a warning while someone else gets panics by thinking about going on a date. One person may struggle with a fear of driving, yet another person lives in constant worries about everything. Despite coming in different ways, all anxiety disorders illicit intense thoughts of fear out of proportion.
How to Know You Have Anxiety Disorder
While anxiety can prevent you from living the way you want, it's crucial to know that you are not alone. Anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental health problems and is treatable. If you have the following signs and symptoms, you are probably suffering from anxiety disorders.
- Constant intense fear or an edge
- Anxiety interfering with your school, family responsibilities, or work
- Plagued by an irrational fear that you can’t seem to shake away
- A belief that something bad is likely to happen if something doesn't follow a certain way
- Avoiding everyday activity because they bring you anxiety
- Sudden or unexpected heart-pounding panic attacks
- Constant thoughts of catastrophe or danger
What Is An Anxiety Attack?
Also known as panic attacks, they are episodes of fear or intense panic. In most cases, they occur unexpectedly. Sometimes there may be an obvious trigger like thinking about your presentation or getting stuck in an elevator. They also peak within ten minutes but rarely last beyond thirty minutes.
However, during those few minutes, you experience severe terror as if you are about to lose control or die. Also, the physical symptoms may be so frightening that you may think you will have a heart attack. If you’re in public, you may experience fear of having another one when the first one ends.
Symptoms of Anxiety Attack
Seek help whenever you start avoiding certain situations or activities because you are likely to have a panic attack. Remember that anxiety attacks are highly treatable. In fact, most people get well within five to eight Anxiety treatment sessions. Panic attacks symptoms include:
- Shaking or Trembling
- A feeling of unreal or detachment
- Stomach cramps or nausea
- A choking sensation or breathing troubles
- A feeling of going crazy or losing control
- An overwhelming panic
Tips To Cope With Anxiety
Anxiety attacks are unpleasant and very frightening. Keep in mind that everyone has feelings of tension, nervousness, stress, and anxiety from time to time. Below are a few tips on how to manage an anxiety attack.
1. Take a Deep Breath
When anxiety flares, take a deep breath. Although hyperventilating is a symptom of an anxiety attack that exacerbates fear breathing in can help you control it. Rapid breathing and tightness of the chest make your breathing shallow and worsen your tension. Try to take a slow and deep breath while concentrating on each breath.
Also, keep counting up to four for every inhale and exhale. Some people also use the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Also known as relaxing breath, it involves inhaling for 4 seconds, holding for seven seconds, and breathing out slowly for eight seconds.
For some people breathing may worsen the symptoms. In such a case, you should try something else that you enjoy.
2. Keep Your Focus on an Object
When you get overwhelmed with intense fear, concentrating on a physical object can help you get back in control. Pick an object around you or in clear sight and think about how it feels, its shape, and who made it. For example, look at the hand of your wall clock and consciously notice how and when it ticks. By focusing on a single stimulus, you are able to reduce the others.
If you have recurring anxiety attacks, ensure you carry a specific and familiar object to help you feel grounded. This grounding technique can help people suffering from anxiety and trauma.
3. Use the 5-4-3-2-1 Method
Sometimes anxiety attacks can make you feel detached from reality. That’s because the intensity of those feelings can pass all other senses. With the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding method, you can redirect your focus away from the stress. To use this method, complete the following steps whenever you get a panic attack.
- Look at five different items and briefly think about each
- Listen to four distinct sounds and think about what makes them different and where they come from
- Touch three objects and consider their temperature, texture, and their use
- Identify two odor or smell
- Name one thing you have tested or taste a candy
4. Internally Repeat a Mantra
A mantra is a sound, phrase, or word that can relax and reassure you during a panic attack. Internally repeating a mantra provides you with strength and regain focus. For instance, repeating the phrase “This too shall pass” creates reassurance in your mind and regain control. As you repeat it, your physical response will reduce and allow you to relax the muscles and regulate breathing.
5. Try a Muscle Relaxing Technique
One of the physical symptoms of an anxiety attack is muscle tension. Practicing a muscle relaxing technique will help you limit the panic tension. That’s because whenever your mind realizes your body has relaxed other symptoms diminish.
The progressive muscle relaxation method is a popular way of coping with anxiety attacks. It involves tensing up various muscles then relaxing each in turns. Start by:
- First, holding the muscle tension for about five seconds
- Say the word relax as you release it
- Relax the muscle for about ten seconds, then move to another one