Today, my guest post was written by Ryan Rivera. He suffered from severe panic attacks and agoraphobia. Considering I suffer from anxiety myself, I strongly believe that the techniques he discusses are powerful tools to treat this. Ryan’s techniques do not promote medication, and they can be used anywhere. Always consult with your doctor to determine if treatment or medication is required for your unique situation.
Thank you Ryan!
How to Deal With Panic Attacks Without Intervention
Panic attacks can be an overwhelming experience, and if you find that your panic is causing you serious problems with your social life, then there is no harm in seeking assistance from a talk therapist. Cognitive behavioral therapists, especially, are skilled at teaching people to cope with their panic attacks and develop strategies for keeping their panic in check.
But for those that are concerned about going to a therapist – either because they do not feel that they are ready, or they can’t afford it, or they’re worried of some type of social stigma – there are some ways that you can control your panic on your own, without the need for psychological intervention.
Reducing the Symptoms, Frequency, and Severity of Your Panic Attacks
Controlling panic disorder is systematic. You cannot expect large changes right away, as you need to control various stages of panic over time. Expect to continue to get panic attacks, and be sure and see your doctor first – panic attacks often cause a fear that something is wrong with your health, and it’s always a good idea to have a doctor check you out to make sure that fear is reduced before you start. Other tips include:
- Fighting Your Fear
One of the most problematic issues with panic disorder is agoraphobia – or fear of going outdoors. It occurs when people avoid places that cause them panic attacks, because they feel that if they avoid the location or event, they’ll be less likely to get the attack. Unfortunately, this only makes panic attacks worse, because you’ll soon find that more and more places cause you panic. It’s important you continue to let yourself get into situations that cause panic attacks, in order to ensure that you don’t increase the number of situations that cause panic. It also relates to the second tip on the list.
- Expect the Panic
Trying not to get panic disorder and fearing panic attacks are, unfortunately, often cause of their own panic attacks. You can prepare yourself for this fear by simply waiting for the panic attack to occur. It’s not fun – and it can feel somewhat scary – but if you wait for your panic attack to occur, once it does it will usually temporarily fade, and you can get on with your day. This will also help change your mindset about panic from something that causes you intense fear to simply a major inconvenience, and that can reduce the severity of the symptoms.
- Self-Induced Exposure Therapy
While it’s better when this occurs in the presence of a therapist, it can be done on your own time. Exposure therapy is when you expose yourself to triggers of panic disorder until you get used to them and they no longer trigger the severe symptoms. For example, if you get panic attacks when your heartbeat increases, you can drink extra coffee so that your heartbeat stays fast all day. If you get panic attacks when you feel short on breath, you can breathe slowly through a straw to feel like you’re not getting enough air until you get used to that feeling as well. Doing this multiple times in many different places can prevent these experiences from triggering panic.
- Have Someone to Call
Finally, a good idea is to make sure you have something to talk to when you’re getting a panic attack – someone that understands where you’re coming from and can stay on the phone with you to make sure you’re okay. This is especially important if your panic attacks come from fearing about your own health. By knowing someone is on the phone with you and willing to accept your call at any time, you’ll be confident that if something did happen (which it won’t, of course), someone will be there to get help.
Controlling Your Panic
These simple changes can reduce the severity and frequency of your symptoms. They may not immediately prevent all panic attacks, but over time as you get used to living well despite having panic disorder, your panic attacks will start to go away.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera suffered from severe panic attacks and agoraphobia. Now that he’s free of his anxiety conditions he writes about anxiety help for others at www.calmclinic.com