When I was diagnosed with anxiety, I felt that my parents, especially my dad, found it hard to believe that his child was “depressed” without any cause. He looked for possible causes – was it heartbreak? Bad grades? Too much after-school activities? I felt bad because it was causing my parents stress as well. But what could I do? When you don’t know what to avoid, what do you do to feel in control?
The doctor advised me to take some medication and counselling, with the help of my mom. I did it for a few months, and had small success, but the anxiety kept going back from time to time. In college I began exploring other treatments, like yoga. I even tried out the lifestyle of Ayurveda (a type of natural medicine from India) and it somehow gave me a lighter feeling and helped with my anxiety.
HOLD ON! Yoga did help me a little. But it’s not how I overcame ANXIETY and PANIC ATTACKS. This is what DID…
Since anxiety can lead to panic attacks, it’s also important that you know what to do when you are experiencing one. You don’t always lose consciousness during an attack, so you can do small steps to make sure you don’t harm yourself accidentally.
You just start with recognizing that you are indeed having a panic attack. It may come out of nowhere and will certainly surprise you – and the body will react to the adrenaline surge by triggering the flight or fight response. Accept that it is a process that you will have to sit through and remind yourself that there is no real danger. After a few minutes, the attack will pass. Breathe deeply through your nose to attempt to calm your mind. Counting also helps.
Don’t belittle yourself by thinking that a panic attack equates to a failure on your part. Reassure yourself by thinking positive thoughts. Think if the attack was caused by a certain factor – it might help you in the future. It’s also best if you carry your medication with you.
Anxiety disorders aren’t simple headaches that will get better eventually if you wait it out. You could try medical treatments, which are really useful to reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorder. These medications however cannot cure the disorder, but would make the individual feel better. Each treatment has varied results for different people, just as there is no single cause for everyone’s anxiety. Some get lucky and get great results in a short period of time. Others, however, need much more than just medication. People with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders need long-term medication with care.
According to researchers, there are four classes of medication available for those suffering from anxiety. Each one has different purposes, as well as side effects. Factors such as type of mental disorder, age, sex, body size, physical illnesses, sickness history, diet, and even genetics come into the equation when one is being considered for medication.
Aside from medication, therapy is the most recommended treatment for anxiety. If you just think about it, it’s better to connect with another person, after all – one who will really focus on you and intend to understand your thoughts, albeit they are paid to do that. Therapists can help patients feel that they are not alone in their situation, and though that may feel helpless, they are not losers who can’t do anything in their situations.
One such practice is called cognitive behaviour therapy, a self-reflective process that helps people redirect their thinking into something self-soothing. As with any life situation, it is helpful if you focus less on life details and more on fun things that make you happy. It can be in a form of meditation, stress-management, group therapy, relaxation techniques, self-care, family therapy, exercise and, believe it or not, reducing intake of caffeine. Some people resort to religion at this point, and hey, I don’t think there’s anything wrong in believing that there is a higher being that brings more goodness in the world.
Another type of remedy is the alternative and complementary treatments. You don’t necessarily have to go to witch doctors to get these, but they work on the basic principle that the stress comes from the polluted mind and body. Yoga, acupuncture and kava may work wonders depending on the patient. Even walking and avoiding stressful situations can help patients. The treatment length varies, and some may have effects in just a few weeks, but others may not experience peace at all. It will still be better if you seek help from the right health care professional.