Management of Panic Attacks and Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Feeling anxious is normal when one undergoes stressful situations, major life events and changes with unknown outcome. However, the feeling of anxiety that does not go away or frequently occurs could be a sign of anxiety disorder. This disorder could take the form of a generalized anxiety disorder or can occur through regular panic attacks.
Anxiety disorders have varying intensities of manifestations. Generalized anxiety disorder has recurring symptoms like fear of failure, obsession for perfection and punctuality, restlessness, excessive worrying and indecisiveness. A person suffering from this may feel fatigue, tension, sleeplessness, irritability and nervousness. On the other hand, panic attacks may have more intense symptoms such as chest pain, trembling, rapid heart rate, numbness, hot flashes, sweating, fear of death or loss of control, abdominal cramping and headache. There is a feeling of impending doom and hopelessness which makes it difficult for the person with this disorder to relax.
People with anxiety attacks and generalized anxiety disorder have dysfunctional social life due to their fear of failure and being stigmatized. Their fear is commonly irrational but this is justifiable. Their feelings of anxiety are caused by changes in the brain, and can be triggered by anything like stress, feeling of intense emotions and other overwhelming situations. Most patients feel the stigma of having a mental disorder so they choose not to seek help. They do not want to be known as having such illness because the society usually has discriminating reactions to mental disorders.
There are many ways to treat anxiety disorders. The patients themselves can engage in self-help activities such as writing down their concerns, taking charge of their worry period and accepting uncertainty. Helpful lifestyle changes can also be done such as getting enough sleep, having healthy eating habits, regular exercise and reduction in alcohol and nicotine intake. Professional help may be needed if the anxiety already keeps the patient from leading a normal life. The professionals may assist the patient in behavioral therapies which will challenge their negative thoughts and expose them to their fears to enable confrontation and realization of the fears lack of ability to harm the patient. Sometimes, medications may be prescribed to help the patient relax when the situation gets out of hand.
Aside from treatments, one of the most important factors that assist in the recovery of the patient is a strong support system. Significant family members and friends should help the patient rationalize their anxieties. They should avoid acting judgmental, as this may trigger the patients depression. In most cases, people who experience anxiety attacks and panic attacks also suffer from depression. This could be due to their dysfunctional coping in social activities and feelings of inadequacy due to their disorder. The two mental disorders should be treated hand in hand in order to keep one from triggering the other.
Mental disorders take many forms and their causes are usually unknown or hard to understand. What we can do best is to assist the patients and make them feel comfortable in situations that mostly trigger their symptoms. The chance of recovery is so much better if the support circle is strong and willing to do their part.