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Meth Helpline : 1800 874 878 - The Meth Helpline is a free confidential telephone counselling, information and referral service for anyone concerned about their own or another person's meth use.
1800RESPECT - 1800 737 732 - 24 hour 7 days a week, confidential telephone and online support - 1800RESPECT is not only a support service for people affected by sexual assault, domestic and family violence. It is also an information and support service for family, friends, and frontline workers.
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Anxiety and Panic Attacks
The Sick Rose by William Blake
O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
Source: John Murtagh's General Practice
1. is not always an enemy; we need periods of worry to help us plan and so if creativity kicks in to solve a problem about which we are anxious it can be turned to a useful purpose. It can be a spring board for creativity to find or create a solution, or to get safe when we are concerned about our a genuine risk.
2. can become rogue if we pay it too much attention; we give it more 'oxygen' the more focus we give it.
3. usually causes us to lose access to a bunch of our problems solving, language and thinking skills temporarily when it is running rampant (not a good time to make decisions).
4. has allies: hopelessness is one of its strongest and that ally can be defeated by spotting global negative predications like ‘this will ALWAYS be ...,’ ‘s/he will NEVER ...,‘ ‘this will happen EVERY time,’ etc; wait until calm and then interrogate these thoughts with questions like when, if ever is this true 100% of the time?; what does this thinking let me justify so I can get away with a major hurtful decision?; what are the times this has definitely not been true? etc.).
5. has enemies: effective counselling, connecting with people who welcome and model openness, trust, fun, open air activity etc.
6. frequently wears a mask of anger, particularly in men, since it is so much easier to show anger than to admit to fear or anxiety.
7. is often avoided or numbed down by busy-ness, entertainment, thrill seeking, risk taking, distancing from emotions, disconnecting from the present moment, overuse of medication, alcohol and other drugs; these all have the potential to become addictions.
8. can be tamed, so if you think you are ready to act on it call 040 8890 887 to discuss appointment options.
In this clip A/Prof Michael Baigent, Clinical Advisor to beyondblue talks about men and anxiety.
The limbic system at the base of the brain is onvolved in generating anxiety. If you like brain detail this clip describes the limbic system in just 60 seconds (very technical).
A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you're losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.
Many people have just one or two panic attacks in their lifetimes, and the problem goes away, perhaps when a stressful situation ends. But if you've had recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and spent long periods in constant fear of another attack, you may have a condition called panic disorder.
Although panic attacks themselves aren't life-threatening, they can be frightening and significantly affect your quality of life. But treatment can be very effective.
Panic attacks may start off by coming on suddenly and without warning, but over time, they're usually triggered by certain situations.
Some research suggests that your body's natural fight-or-flight response to danger is involved in panic attacks. For example, if a grizzly bear came after you, your body would react instinctively. Your heart rate and breathing would speed up as your body prepared itself for a life-threatening situation. Many of the same reactions occur in a panic attack. But it's not known why a panic attack occurs when there's no obvious danger present.
Panic Attack Symptoms:
Panic attacks typically begin suddenly, without warning. They can strike at any time — when you're driving a car, shopping, sound asleep or in the middle of a business meeting. You may have occasional panic attacks or they may occur frequently.
Panic attacks have many variations, but symptoms usually peak within minutes. You may feel fatigued and worn out after a panic attack subsides.
Panic attacks mean 'I feel unsafe' whether or not I am unsafe. A key driver in panic attacks is the fear of the body's own fear sensations and typically include some of these symptoms:
• Sense of impending doom or overwhelm/danger
• Fear of loss of control or death
• Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
• Hot flashes
• Chest pain
• Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
• Numbness or tingling sensation
• Feeling of unreality or detachment
• Beads of sweat form around mouth or forehead
• Eyes widen
• Cheeks or whole face goes red
• Mouth becomes very dry
• Hair on neck stands up
• Dry throat and/or frequent throat clearing
• Heart beats hard (pounding) so is much more easy to detect
• Heart beating fast
• Butterflies in stomach
• Clenched fists
• Restless legs and feet
• Arms and hands holding onto body
• Jelly knees/legs
• Feel a strong need to go to the toilet suddenly
• Curled up toes
• Red ears
• Eyebrows go up
• Round mouth (open)
• Throwing up or feeling like throwing up
• Shoulders go up
• Sweaty underarms
• Hair on arms stands up
• Sweaty palms
• Hand trembling or shaking
• Shake all over
• Abdominal cramping or stress diarrhoea
• Stress incontinence
One of the worst things about panic attacks is the intense fear that you'll have another one. You may fear having a panic attack so much that you avoid situations where they may occur.
When to see a Doctor About Panic Attacks:
If you have panic attack symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible. Panic attacks, while intensely uncomfortable, are not dangerous. But panic attacks are hard to manage on your own, and they may get worse without treatment.
Because panic attack symptoms can also resemble other serious health problems, such as a heart attack, it's important to get evaluated by your health care provider if you aren't sure what's causing your symptoms.
Panic Attack Risk Factors:
Symptoms of panic disorder often start in the late teens or early adulthood and affect more women than men. Factors that may increase the risk of developing panic attacks or panic disorder include:
Family history of panic attacks or panic disorder
Major life stress, such as the death or serious illness of a loved one
A traumatic event, such as sexual assault or a serious accident
Major life changes, such as a divorce or the addition of a baby
Smoking or excessive caffeine intake
History of childhood physical or sexual abuse
Left untreated, panic attacks and panic disorder can affect almost every area of your life. You may be so afraid of having more panic attacks that you live in a constant state of fear, ruining your quality of life.
Complications that panic attacks may cause or be linked to include:
Development of specific phobias,e.g. of driving or leaving home
Frequent medical care for health concerns and medical conditions
Avoidance of social situations
Problems at work or school
Depression, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric disorders
Increased risk of suicide or suicidal thoughts
Alcohol or other substance misuse
For some people, panic disorder may include agoraphobia — avoiding places or situations that cause you anxiety because you fear not being able to escape or get help if you have a panic attack. Or you may become reliant on others to be with you in order to leave your home.
Preparing for a doctor's appointment:
If you've had signs or symptoms of a panic attack, make an appointment with your primary care provider. After an initial evaluation, your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist or counsellor/social worker/ or psychologist for treatment.
What you can do
Before your appointment, make a list of:
Your symptoms, when they started and how often you've had them
Key personal information, including traumatic events in your past and any stressful, major events that occurred before your first panic attack
Medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions that you have
Medications, vitamins and other supplements and the dosages
Questions to ask your doctor
Ask a trusted family member or friend to go with you to your appointment, if possible, to lend support and help you remember information.
Questions to ask your doctor at your first appointment
What do you believe is causing my symptoms?
Is it possible that a medical problem is causing my symptoms?
Do I need any diagnostic tests?
Should I see a mental health specialist?
Is there anything I can do now to help manage my symptoms?
Questions to ask if you're referred to a mental health provider
Do I have panic attacks or panic disorder?
What treatment approach do you recommend?
If you're recommending therapy, how often will I need it and for how long?
If you're recommending medications, are there any possible side effects?
For how long will I need to take medication?
How will you monitor whether my treatment is working?
What can I do to reduce the risk of my panic attacks recurring?
Are there any self-care steps I can take to help manage?
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions.
What to expect from your doctor
A doctor or mental health provider may ask:
What are your symptoms, and when did they first occur?
How often do your attacks occur, and how long do they last?
Does anything in particular seem to trigger an attack?
How often do you experience fear of another attack?
Do you avoid locations or experiences that trigger an attack?
How do your symptoms affect your life, such as school, work and personal relationships?
Did you experience major stress or a traumatic event shortly before your first panic attack?
Have you ever experienced major trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, road trauma, or military battle?
How would you describe your childhood, including your relationship with your parents?
Have you or any of your close relatives been diagnosed with a mental health problem, including panic attacks or panic disorder?
Have you been diagnosed with any medical conditions?
Do you use caffeine, alcohol or recreational drugs? How often?
Do you exercise or do other types of regular physical activity?
Tests and Diagnosis:
Your doctor or other health care provider must determine if you have panic attacks, panic disorder or another condition, such as heart or thyroid problems, that resembles panic symptoms.
To help pinpoint a diagnosis, you may have:
A complete physical exam
Blood tests to check your thyroid and other possible conditions and tests on your heart, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
A psychological evaluation to talk about your symptoms, stressful situations, fears or concerns, relationship problems, and other issues affecting your life
You may fill out a psychological self-assessment or questionnaire. You also may be asked about alcohol or other substance use.
Criteria for diagnosis of panic disorder
Not everyone who has panic attacks has a panic disorder. For a diagnosis of panic disorder, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, lists these points:
You have frequent, unexpected panic attacks.
At least one of your attacks has been followed by one month or more of ongoing worry about having another attack; continued fear of the consequences of an attack, such as losing control, having a heart attack or "going crazy"; or significantly changing your behavior, such as avoiding situations that you think may trigger a panic attack.
Your panic attacks aren't caused by drugs or other substance use, a medical condition, or another mental health condition, such as social phobia or obsessive compulsive disorder.
If you have panic attacks but not a diagnosed panic disorder, you can still benefit from treatment. If panic attacks aren't treated, they can get worse and develop into panic disorder or phobias.
Treatment can help reduce the intensity and frequency of the panic attacks and improve your function in daily life. The main treatment options are psychotherapy and medications. One or both types of treatment may be recommended, depending on your preference, your history, the severity of your panic disorder and whether you have access to therapists who have special training in panic disorders.
Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is considered an effective first choice treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder. Psychotherapy can help you understand panic attacks and panic disorder and learn how to cope with them.
A form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy can help you learn through your own experience that panic symptoms are not dangerous. During therapy sessions, your therapist will help you gradually re-create the symptoms of a panic attack in a safe, repetitive manner. Once the physical sensations of panic no longer feel threatening, the attacks begin to resolve. Successful treatment can also help you overcome fears of situations that you've been avoiding because of panic attacks.
Seeing results from treatment can take time and effort. You may start to see panic attack symptoms reduce within several weeks, and often symptoms decrease significantly or go away within several months. You may schedule occasional maintenance visits to help ensure that your panic attacks remain under control or to treat reoccurrences.
Medications can help reduce symptoms associated with panic attacks as well as depression if that's an issue for you. Several types of medication have been shown to be effective in managing symptoms of panic attacks. Discuss these with your doctor or psychiatrist.
Talk with your doctor or other health care provider about the effectiveness of suppliments. Also read the Health the Depression page on this site.
Source for Panic Attack Information: adapted from Mayo Clinic