Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem on the planet. Even so, they can initially be dismissed as general nervousness or worry. Over time, the anxiety intensifies, and it becomes more clear that something more serious is going on. When anxiety reaches this point, however, it is more likely that you will be struggling with anxiety attacks.
The terms “anxiety attack” and “panic attack” are often used interchangeably. In reality, they can be quite different in many ways. For the purposes of this post, we are talking about anxiety attacks. But, we will take a little time to explain the differences.
Anxiety Attack vs. Panic Attack
There are several types of anxiety disorders, e.g., generalized anxiety, social anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Panic disorder is a form of anxiety, but it typically manifests more suddenly and intensely than other types of anxiety, e.g.:
- Panic attacks seem to come out of nowhere, while an anxiety attack is usually in response to a perceived threat or situation.
- Symptoms appear more gradually during anxiety attacks.
- Panic attacks typically subside in a matter of minutes.
If you’re not sure what you are experiencing, it makes a lot of sense to meet with a mental health practitioner and get some input. If your emotions and experiences line up with anxiety and anxiety attacks, there are some tips that help you calm down.
6 Tips to Calm an Anxiety Attack
This falls into the category of preventative. When you know you are prone to anxiety attacks, it can really help to prepare in advance. This may include:
- Basic self-care: regular sleep patterns, healthy eating choices, and daily physical activity
- Avoid triggers like alcohol and caffeine
- Create a support system of trusted friends and family members
Knowing you’ve taken such steps can actually reduce the likelihood and/or intensity of an anxiety attack.
At first, an anxiety attack can be disconcerting, scary, and even make you feel embarrassed. When you do the homework to understand what’s happening, you can better accept it and begin working on solutions.
3. Relaxation Techniques
Humans have a long history of effective relaxation techniques. Developing these tools positions you to feel both less panicked and calmer when an anxiety attack occurs.
4. Breathing Exercises
A hallmark of an anxiety attack is disrupted breathing. This can be countered by slow and steady breathing exercises. You can more quickly recapture a feeling of control.
Anxiety is often triggered by using past issues to assume more problems in the future. Mindfulness is a practice that keeps you rooted in the present moment. Meditation is a fine example of this. During an actual anxiety attack, you can learn certain grounding tactics that guide you to a calmer mental space.
Keep track of when your anxiety attacks happen. Other details to monitor:
- Who you are with
- Where you are
- What helped calm you down
- How long did it last?
This type of knowledge builds resilience and empowers you to identify anxiety attacks as temporary and often unfounded.
Getting Help With Your Anxiety
Never forget that anxiety is a diagnosable mental health condition. Therefore, it usually requires outside intervention. You can calm things down with the tactics described above, but long-term relief often involves meeting with a therapist.
Your weekly sessions provide a workshop of sorts. You and your therapist work together to identify underlying patterns and triggers. This enables you to fend off anxiety attacks and conjure up effective countermeasures. You don’t have to live in fear of looming anxiety or panic attacks. It all starts with a free consultation.