The panic attack sufferer often feels very much alone and bewildered. Unless or until they learn they are not alone, they try very hard to hide their nervousness and make everything appear OK to the outside world. After all, panic attacks feel horrifying and bizarre and that pretty much covers the thoughts that go along with it.
So it really is not surprising that sufferers look to various methods of self help for panic attacks. They may try to explain their feelings to a doctor, but most general practitioners are not familiar with anxiety disorders. The ones that are may prescribe anti-anxiety drugs or recommend seeing a therapist or psychiatrist. Having worked in hospitals as a nurse, I have seen first hand and can attest that emergency room doctors and staff are often impatient with anxiety sufferers.
After seeing a doctor, you still have to live with your anxiety. So what can you do for self help?
Advocate for Yourself
A lot actually. The first thing I learned myself and now tell others is that you must be your own advocate. With panic attacks, you will know more about your symptoms than any professional, and you must be honest, open and willing to discuss your feelings with your doctor.
If you don’t think your doctor listens well or understands you, get another doctor. This is especially important if you are on prescription medication or need medication occasionally. It is crucial if you are reducing or withdrawing from anti-anxiety drugs, like I am presently. (Never make med adjustments without the supervision of a licensed physician.)
When it Comes to Panic Attacks, Knowledge is Power
Educate yourself about panic attacks and anxiety disorders. Anxiety is a beast and it is helpful to know, among other things, that you will never die or go crazy from a panic attack and that the symptoms of panic, while very disturbing, are not harming you in any way.
I highly recommend 2 books, which are both in my personal library and pretty much cover everything you need to know about anxiety disorders and panic attacks. They are: Hope and Help for your Nerves by Dr.Claire Weekes and The Anxiety Disease by David Sheehan, MD. These are 2 phenomenal resource books, and both can be picked up used on Amazon for less than $5. These are both widely popular ‘older books’ and may very likely be in your local public library, so don’t forget to check there too. Read my reviews for Hope and Help for Your Nerves here and the Anxiety Disease here.
Connect with Others, Don’t Isolate
Reach out to other suffers or to safe people in your life. Safe people are friends or loved ones who are willing to listen to you without judgment. A safe person can also be a therapist or clergy person. The advent of the internet has been a real blessing for panic attack suffers, myself included. Discussion forums are excellent ways to connect with others who share your feelings, if not your exact situation.
Here are 9 popular anxiety forums.
Be sure to use a nickname so that you can remain anonymous and feel safe on the forums, especially if you have social anxiety. When participating on any forum, follow the rules of etiquette, and do stay away from negative members or those who are not interested in recovery. It’s easy enough to get fed up with dealing with anxiety on your own, so do not commiserate with others in negativity. Instead, ask others what worked for them, and share what worked for you.
The point is to reach out with your pain and not to isolate. The nature of panic attacks makes us want to hide our true feelings from the world, often because we are ashamed of them. Prolonged isolation can lead to agoraphobia, where it is difficult or to leave the comforts of home without severe anxiety.
The wonderful thing about connecting with others is that you learn you are really just having a human experience, albeit an extreme one. Nothing is as bad as we make it in our minds, and this is especially true of panic attacks. Think about it. Anxiety is felt by all human beings, and it is nothing to be ashamed of
I’m here to tell you that once I reached out to others, and came clean about my panic attacks, I felt a great deal of relief. My friends and family continue to love and support me and at the end of the day, isn’t that what really counts?
Next we will look at more self help for panic attacks.
I wish you peace,
photo source: Iain Farrell
Ready to take action with an effective anxiety elimination program? I recommend and use the Anxiety Self Help Road Map. Please get started today and reclaim your life from fear.