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Panic disorder, a condition that causes an individual to experience repeated panic attacks, is becoming more prevalent every day. Lasting between a few minutes to half an hour, these panic attacks often occur without any prior warning and can be highly disruptive. Not only are these attacks out of the victim’s control, but they are also very unpredictable regarding the severity of symptoms.

At present, millions of Americans are living with panic disorder, and the numbers are only going up with every passing year. The debilitating effects of this psychiatric issue can make it impossible to live normally; however, with appropriate tips and support, it is possible to make a living with panic disorder more manageable.

No two people experience panic attacks in the same way. The sensations and symptoms of this disorder can vary from one person to another. However, as per most panic attack stories, the following are some common experiences that most of these individuals experience:

You think you might die.

A panic attack often involves symptoms like difficulty breathing, choking sensations, and chest pain. You may feel like your thoughts are swimming and racing, potentially overwhelming you. Your vision starts to narrow or blur, and your limbs may feel frozen or too heavy to move. Since these sensations are not common in everyday life, experiencing them may make you believe something is wrong. Some people may mistakenly believe they are experiencing a stroke, heart attack, or another health emergency that will kill them.

You feel like you’re losing control.

During an active episode of a panic attack, you may feel like you are detached or disconnected from your body. Some people may lose track of reality and become doubtful if the activities happening around them are real or not. Time speeds up or slows down for others, and their surroundings suddenly become dreamlike or disjointed.

As you feel detached or disconnected from your body during a panic attack, this detachment may make you worried about losing control over your reactions. You realize that you cannot stop the ongoing attack, which makes you feel powerless. Even if your panic disorder involves less frequent attacks, you may feel even more concerned about losing control of your actions, emotions, or both.

You worry about having a panic attack in public.

Many people with panic disorder wish to avoid panic attacks in public places. This is because there is a stigma around mental health symptoms in general, so they may worry about other people not understanding what’s happening to them. Most people with panic disorders worry that others will think their attacks are just a way to seek more attention. Others wish to avoid dealing with any emotional distress and physical discomfort in front of others.

You feel safer avoiding situations you associate with panic attacks.

Living with panic disorder means that you spend a lot of time dreading panic attacks in the future and doing whatever you can to prevent them from happening. To make this happen, you may start avoiding different situations and things that you think might trigger these attacks. For example, if you had a panic attack on the train or while you were running in the park, you may decide to avoid riding the train or running altogether. This avoidance behavior may negatively impact your life, making you more fearful and damaging important life aspects.

Living with panic disorder can take a toll on your emotional health. It is imperative to take good care of your emotional well-being once you have been diagnosed with this disorder. To start with, consider exploring your emotions and feelings about your diagnosis. It is normal to feel the emotions of confusion, anger, or distress; however, it is still important to keep them under control through the following strategies:

Attend therapy

Psychotherapy remains the first line of treatment for panic disorder. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven to help manage the psychological and physical distress triggered by panic disorder. Connect with a therapist that specializes in CBT to learn new coping mechanisms that may help relieve the symptoms much more quickly.

Try meditation

Meditation is one of the best tools that millions of people use to ensure good mental well-being. While this practice alone may not help treat panic disorder, it can certainly prove beneficial for reducing the severity or frequency of the associated attacks. Mindfulness meditation has also been proven to effectively reduce the symptoms of anxiety and panic, as per multiple research studies.

Start journaling

Journaling is a healthy practice that gives you insight into the working of your mind. Because a panic attack begins in mind, certain things are thought to trigger it. Journaling can help you recognize these triggers and help you avoid them in the future to minimize the frequency of attacks.

People with panic disorder encounter several physical symptoms, especially during an active attack. Among the most common ones of these symptoms include sweating, racing heartbeat, numbness, and chest pain. While having a panic attack, remember that these physical symptoms are temporary and likely to pass once the attack ends.

Because panic disorder is a mental health condition, many people dismiss how much it can affect physical health. However, ensure that you are taking as much care of your body as your mind while living with panic disorder. Mentioned below are a few tips to take care of your physical health.

Exercise regularly

Exercising regularly is one of the best ways to maintain good physical health. High-stress levels and exercise mostly trigger panic attacks can greatly help in the reduction of stress.

Follow healthy dietary habits

As you invest time in exercising, try eating clean and healthy meals to keep your mind sharp and your body healthy.

Regulate your sleep cycle

An average adult requires at least seven hours of sleep every night to maintain good physical and mental health. Every minute you spend sleeping peacefully every night will keep your mind alert during the day and ward off panic attacks. Make sure to make your bedroom environment as comfortable as possible and adjust the temperature and lighting so that you can easily slip into a deep sleep.

Living with panic disorder can significantly affect the social life of a person. To encounter these social issues, the following tips can help:

Seek help from a support system

Having a support system is crucial for everyone, but it becomes more vital when you have been diagnosed with panic disorder. Adjusting to life and living with the fear of experiencing a panic attack at any moment is not easy, but having a support system to rely on in these crucial times can be extremely helpful. This support system can be your family members or close friends who can help you by connecting you to the right resources, accompanying you to group meetings, or simply being there when you are having difficulty following an attack.

Join a support group

If you have no close family members or friends to rely on for help and support, consider joining a community support group. Participating in these groups will help you connect with people with similar issues and make you understand that you are not alone in your fight against panic disorder. Talking to these people can also equip you with new information, resources, and insights you may not have considered.

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