"How can I stop a panic attack IMMEDIATELY?"
Kate* implored me to help her cure her panic attacks with counseling. She wanted an answer fast!
Unfortunately, in working with Kate on her counseling for Panic Disorder, it became clear that she had suffered from high stress and anxiety for a number of years without seeking treatment. This led to more serious problems than if she had created a stress management plan when symptoms were less severe.
Kate's anxiety didn't develop all at once. It had slowly crept in after a breakup with her long-term boyfriend and coworker, Joe. Immediately after this breakup, Kate found herself regularly waking at 3AM, when her mind seemed to turn on with worries about how she would manage to continue working with her ex. Kate soon began to avoid certain meetings or areas of her workplace because she didn't want to risk running into Joe.
Avoiding important meetings meant Kate fell out of the loop in her job, and she dropped the ball on a few projects. When her boss gave Kate a bad performance review, her worries increased tenfold. Some days she felt so paralyzed with worry during her commute that she became physically sick and would pull her car over to avoid vomiting.
Knowing she couldn't avoid any more lost time at work - especially now - Kate began visiting walk-in clinics in an effort to get her stomach issues under control. This lasted for nearly 2 years before Kate came to my office for help after she was diagnosed with a panic attack by her OBGYN on a routine visit and was subsequently referred to my office.
I realized quickly that because Kate's early symptoms of stress (sleeplessness, avoidance) were unmanaged, full-fledged panic attacks (vomiting, nausea, racing heart) ultimately ensued.
You see, Kate believed a number of damaging myths about anxiety. She's not alone. From where I sit, there are 4 major myths that need to be addressed.
4 Myths About Anxiety That Are Damaging Your Mind and Health
1. "It's not that serious...it's just the way I am." I hear this line every week from potential clients who believe their sleeplessness, muscle tension, or excessive worry are just simply their "nature." While it's true that some of us are naturally more high-strung and prone to stress, it is false to believe that living with the symptoms of this stress is healthy or "normal."
Symptoms of anxiety can actually cause or exacerbate a number of health problems:
- Heart attack
- Common colds
- Panic attacks
- Substance abuse
- Hair loss
Obviously you realize that some conditions, like diabetes or a heart attack, are very serious. However, it can be easy to think that symptoms like sleep loss are possible to simply ignore. Consider for a moment how serious insomnia could be if it causes you to nod off while driving. Or how repeated bouts of the common cold could lead to serious work absenteeism with major consequences.
It's always best to treat stress and anxiety when symptoms are at a lower level rather than when they become utterly debilitating.
2. You should hide clinical anxiety or be embarrassed and ashamed of it. Because I treat dozens of high-achieving, well-dressed, well-liked people for anxiety, I often forget how stigmatized people can feel when admitting to their symptoms. I regularly tell friends that if they knew how many "normal" (their words) people confidentially come into therapy every day, they'd be a lot more apt to visit a counselor themselves.
According to the DSM-V, almost 20% of people have anxiety worldwide. What's more, anxious distress can be inherited just like diabetes or high blood pressure. Do you fault a person who inherits a predisposition to breast cancer? Then why get so freaked out when you think someone you know has anxiety?
In fact, statistically one in five of your friends does probably have anxiety.
It's also worth noting that some anxiety is not inherited, but rather is situational. Consider Kate: she'd never experienced anxiety before in her life and had no family history, but a few stressful events left unmanaged caused her to develop symptoms.
3. You can just snap out of it. If you're an anxiety sufferer, it can be incredibly frustrating to hear loved ones say, "Just stop thinking about it." By definition, anxiety means you find it difficult to control the worried thoughts that enter your mind throughout the day.
This means that anxious can't be effectively managed or resolved by simply ignoring the problem.
I would venture to say that burying your head in the sand can, in fact, worsen the symptoms. What if I told you, "Don't think about pink bunnies right now. No matter what, just ignore any thoughts of pink bunnies that enter your mind. Don't think about their little pink tails, or their two big ears, or their little pink feet." What's the only thing on your mind right now? Pink bunnies!
Managing anxiety and simple daily stress takes an arsenal of coping skills that you use on a regular basis.
4. Everybody gets stressed. A part of this statement is true, granted. I will wholeheartedly agree that everyday life is full of stressors like bills, traffic, parenting, and dinner plans.
But when it affects your sleep, appetite, digestion, muscles, fatigue or energy levels...we're dealing with more than stress.
In my Quiet Mind Collective Monthly Survival Guide, I interviewed Samantha Johnston, who shares how a time of incredible stress actually led her body to rebel against her with an autoimmune disorder that caused incredible pain, joint stiffness, and other negative effects. She shares the incredible ways that simple stress relief routines actually relieved the physical pain symptoms and swelling she was experiencing.
My Quiet Mind Collective Monthly Survival Guide can be an invaluable part of your monthly stress management and anxiety relief routine. Through this powerful online course, you'll learn the exact same strategies I'd teach you in therapy... but for a fraction of the cost of counseling and in the privacy of your own home.
Quiet Mind Collective offers:
- Transformative coping skills for any level of anxious distress
- Research-backed psychoeducation broken down into easy-to-understand lessons
- Powerful worksheets, videos, and audio recordings to help you take back control over the fear and stress affecting your health
While traditional therapy could cost you up to $3500, Quiet Mind Collective Monthly Survival Guide delivers:
- A value-packed subscription of new lessons every month for one year
- Videos, worksheets and interactive exercises to help you plan for stress management
- A private, nurturing community filled with support for your concerns
Pay not $3500, but only $997. For your convenience, you may also choose to make 12 monthly payments of $97.
A daily, weekly and monthly routine for stress relief helps keep the stressors of life at a manageable level rather than allowing your body to build up damaging symptoms that affect your mind and physical health. Don't wait to invest in your wellness!
*Kate is a fictitious character created from an amalgam of actual client stories to demonstrate common signs of Panic Disorder.