Panic Attacks vs. Anxiety Attacks
Sometimes, when we have been living in an anxious state for far too long we might experience an anxiety attack or a panic attack. An anxiety attack occurs when we have been thinking about something that increases our anxiety, while a panic attack comes out of nowhere. Both can be experienced very similarly. Often people report a racing heart, dizziness, shortness of breath, muscle tension, nausea, and clammy hands, among other symptoms. The most important thing to know is that both an anxiety attack and panic attack cannot kill you. Often people believe they are having a heart attack when either occur, but neither are an immediate threat to your health. Learning this alone will decrease your anxiety the intensity of the attack.
How to Survive an Anxiety or Panic Attack
In the moment of an anxiety or panic attack there is no room for reasoning with yourself. The time has come and gone to tell yourself the truth. The best thing you can do in the heat of the moment is to ground yourself. Do this by simply picking one of your five senses: hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling or touching. Focus on looking at a painting on the wall, pay attention to the colors, and shapes. Play a song that you enjoy; pour yourself a glass of water or eat a peppermint; smell a candle; or feel the softness of the couch you’re sitting on. Whatever you choose, try to focus all your attention on this one sense. This will take you out of the anxious moment and into reality where you’re safe. We often panic while remembering something traumatic that happened in our past or worrying about something that might happen in the future. What we forget is, we are currently safe in our present. Grounding yourself in your present moment will help your body calm down and keep from responding as if you are in the middle of trauma.