“How do I know if I have panic? And If I do, how can you help?”
These are all good questions. And the answers vary.
One example of a panic attack might be that you went to the ER, thinking you were having a heart attack. But your cardio workup came out normal. In a situation like that, it’s very likely that you were having a panic attack.
Another example might be that you got very scared when driving over a bridge and felt a lot of uncomfortable physical symptoms, including the desire to get off the bridge as soon as possible.
Would these examples mean that I have Panic disorder?
No, not necessarily.
Many people can have a true panic attack every now and then, especially under a lot of stress. But it’s not until a person becomes overly fearful of having another panic attack, that they can be diagnosed with panic disorder. This excessive fear can happen from just one panic attack, or after many.
If I stop doing the things that scare me or give me a panic attack, will that help?
Unfortunately, no. AVOIDANCE IS NOT THE ANSWER. Avoidance can appear to help initially, but it can also lead to agoraphobia. Agoraphobia happens when you avoid places that don’t offer quick escape or help. Needing “quick escape or help” are hallmarks of how a person feels when they have a panic attack. Basically, “get me outa here”.
So, what DOES help?
Learning to look at, recognize and manage your panic is what helps. And that’s where anxiety therapy comes in. Anxiety therapy can help you learn to face your fears, take control of your symptoms, and get your life back. Bit by bit. We can work together, at your own pace, to help your work through your panic and anxiety.