Anxiety or Panic?

(July 23, 2021)

What is this feeling?

Anxiety or panic can strike at any age. It can be especially hard to handle and cope with for  children or teens. The gut wrenching feeling slowly moving its way into your throat; making it hard to breathe, think, feel, or even speak. The big questions are always:  Where does it come from? What can I do to make it go away? Let’s first start with what anxiety is: Anxiety is a fear of a specific situation or problem that could happen. For example: you have a big test coming up and all you can think about is how you might fail. This is why anxiety can last for an extended period of time. Constant worry can make something seem bigger than it really is.  Symptoms of anxiety could include:

  •  worry
  • lack of concentration 
  • physical symptoms such as a knot in our stomach or throat
  • feeling overwhelmed. 
  • feeling restless

Many people confuse an anxiety attack with a panic attack

Though they have some similar symptoms, there is a difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack. A panic attack is a diagnosable disorder because it can disrupt daily living. The Mayo Clinic describes a panic attack as being “a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause”. Panic attacks typically do not have a trigger or reason for making a person go into a state of fear. It can feel very intense and be scary to experience. Some symptoms are:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Chills
  • Chest pain
  • Headache

Thankfully, we have learned effective strategies to minimize both panic and anxiety attacks. Breathing strategies and mindfulness have both proven helpful. Other coping skills, such as writing a journal, going for a walk,  or art/music therapy can also help. Learning and practicing these skills before an attack can help decrease both the length and occurrence of such events. These techniques are not made to get rid of anxiety, but to learn how to cope in the moment. Setting goals for handling anxiety will empower you to use these methods instead of avoiding situations. One goal may be recognizing when you are entering a state of anxiety and reminding yourself to slow your breathing.

It is important to remember that everyone experiences anxiety at some time in their life and it may be time to seek help if it begins to affect your daily life. For more support in dealing with anxiety or panic, schedule an appointment by email or by phone at 217-203-2008.