My panic attacks started in high school. No one in my family really understood what was taking place. My heart would race. My thoughts would jumble. I couldn’t explain exactly what was happening and would either yell or cry in frustration. Sometimes it would happen as I was trying to finish homework and other times I would have an attack in the middle of arguing with my parents. It took some time but now after 15 years of coping with panic attacks I have found three tips that help me manage.
Understand the source:
This took some time and maturity but is a major help in coping with my panic attacks. After spending a year writing in a journal and making an effort to find out why I have attacks and anxiety, I was able to link the attacks to certain feelings or circumstances. I recognized that the times I had an attack were times when I placed unrealistic expectations on myself. That could be trying to get the math homework done in an impossible amount of time or trying to please two relationships that interfered with the other. By knowing this source I know when I feel the beginnings of an attack that there must be some pressure I am putting on myself. Although this knowledge may not help me in the midst of a panic attack, it helps me know what I need to change when I am feeling calmer.
Talk to someone:
In high school and college I never felt comfortable talking about my panic attacks. I simply thought something was wrong with me and I did not want anyone to think less of me for having the attacks. When I got married and had my daughter I realized that there had to be a solution. Before, I could usually hideaway and no one would see the physical and emotional effects of having the attack. That has changed now that I live with and am responsible for someone else. I finally started talking to a person I could trust and then talked with my doctor. I take a prescription to help with the anxiety but the thing that helps me most is the knowledge that I am not alone.
Find a healthy means of escape:
This means of escaping has changed over the years but the factor that stays the same is that it must be healthy. Escaping the pressure with use of alcohol, drugs or gambling will make the attacks worse. Instead, when I know the pressure is getting too much and an attack is near, I find something to serve as a distraction. This could include reading a book, watching an animated movie with my daughter, kicking a ball outside or even taking a nap.