If you have panic attacks, it may help comfort you to know that you are not alone!
You’re not even one in a million. In the USA alone it is estimated that almost 5% of the population suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. For some, it may be the infrequent panic attacks that only crop up in particular situations-like when having to speak in front of others, while, for other people, it can be so frequent and recurring that it inhibits them from leaving their home.
Frequent panic attacks often develop into what medical physicians refer to as an “anxiety disorder.” There are many ways of dealing with an anxiety disorder. Some may not work for you, but others just might. It helps to know some of the most common strategies for dealing with panic attacks when they begin.
Your first step is to recognize when a panic attack is about to begin.
When you have enough of them, you start to really pay attention to the tingling sensations, the shortness of breath, and the disconnection from the real life around you. Many people I work with through the end the anxiety program wonder what that disconnection is like. They have a hard time understanding it. Those of us who have had panic attacks are all too familiar with it. It’s like you can look at a solid object and see that it is there. You know it’s there, but a part of your mind doubts that it really IS there.
You may find yourself reaching out to touch that object just to be sure. You feel like you’re not a part of the world around you. It’s as if you are just a spectator in your own life with no control over anything around you. Believe me, this is a horrible feeling. So how do you start trying to combat your panic attacks? What if I told you that one of the best strategies for dealing with anxiety and panic attacks is to WANT to have one.
That sounds strange, even contradictory, doesn’t it? But the want really does help push it away.
Does this mean that you should be able to bring on a panic attack at this very moment? Absolutely not! What it means is that when you are afraid of something – in this case a panic attack – it will more than likely appear and wreak havoc. When you stand up to the attack, your chances of fending it off are much greater. If you resist a situation out of fear, the fear around that issue will persist. How do you stop resisting–you move directly into it, into the path of the anxiety, and by doing so it cannot persist.
In essence what this means is that if you daily voluntarily seek to have a panic attack, you cannot have one. Try in this very moment to have a panic attack and I will guarantee you cannot. You may not realize it but you have always decided to panic. You make the choice by saying this is beyond my control whether it be consciously or sub-consciously.
Another way to appreciate this is to imagine having a panic attack as like standing on a cliff’s edge. The anxiety seemingly pushes you closer to falling over the edge. To be rid of the fear you must metaphorically jump. You must jump off the cliff edge and into the anxiety and fear and all the things that you fear most.
How do you jump?
You jump by wanting to have a panic attack. You go about your day asking for anxiety and panic attacks to appear. Your real safety is the fact that a panic attack will never harm you. That is a medical fact. You are safe, the sensations are wild but no harm will come to you. Your heart is racing but no harm will come to you. The jump becomes nothing more than a two foot drop! It’s perfectly safe.