Panic disorder considerably reduces people’s quality of life. It steals the enjoyment and productivity of everyday life, as well as the happiness of small moments of fellowship and rest.
When fear and apprehension begin to rule our lives, it is a sign that we need to take a moment to reflect on what is happening to us and the way we are living. Something is causing us extreme discomfort.
If this disorder is not properly diagnosed and treated, the tendency is for panic to become increasingly frequent and to interfere in various areas of life, such as work, study, relationships, and family.
What is panic disorder?
Panic disorder, also known as panic disorder, is characterized by the recurrence of panic attacks. The person with this condition becomes afraid of suffering new crises, modifying their behavior to avoid situations that may contain emotional triggers.
At the moment of panic, people feel very afraid and may have a feeling of death, in addition to several physical symptoms such as:
- Body tremors
- Limb tingling
- Excessive sweat
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Heart rate acceleration
- Intestinal discomfort
- Rapid breathing
As the experience of the attack itself is frightening, it ends up triggering more symptoms.
You don’t necessarily have to have a mental disorder to have a panic attack. Very stressful situations that usually arouse fear, such as traffic accidents, robberies, and the diagnosis of an illness, can provoke an attack.
The fear of experiencing new crises and not knowing what to do ends up leading to voluntary isolation. Also, because they fear the reaction of family and friends, people with this disorder do not usually share that they are having panic attacks. They choose to reduce social contact so as not to be “caught” in a state of panic.
How to treat panic disorder?
Commonly, the treatment of this disorder is done through the ingestion of continuous medication that controls the symptoms and psychotherapy. The recommended approach is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), considered one of the most effective to treat this type of condition.
The CBT techniques used for the treatment of panic disorder are:
- Psychoeducation: The clarification of the characteristics of the disorder helps the patient to understand his health condition. In this phase, he also learns how the treatment is done and what is needed for his long-term well-being, strengthening confidence in the method and the psychologist;
- Relaxation: The patient learns a variety of relaxation and breathing techniques to combat the symptoms of panic attacks and try to prevent their occurrence. He can perform them daily at home to preserve an emotional state of tranquillity, reducing the likelihood of day-to-day attacks; and
- Exposure: Exposure techniques are used for the patient to overcome cognitive distortions (exaggerated and irrational thoughts), being able to make productive decisions at the time of a panic attack. Exposure can be either the induction of physical sensations associated with seizures or in vivo, which is used to help the patient overcome the fear of going to certain public places.
With these techniques, the patient learns to control their reactions, behaviors, thoughts, and emotions to better manage the influence of the disorder in their life. In this way, the fear of losing control during a crisis is gradually reduced.
How to beat panic disorder?
In addition to proper treatment, many things can be done to overcome this disorder. People with this condition can adopt certain habits and gradually change their mindset to prevent future panic attacks and promote their well-being.
1. Change your mindset
Have you ever stopped to think about how important the way you think is? Your thoughts influence your self-esteem, outlook on life, impressions of the world, beliefs, decisions, behaviors, and emotions. A positive mindset, in addition to being more pleasant, promotes emotional well-being, reduces stress and anxiety, helps fight depression, and helps manage negative experiences in the best possible way.
For those with panic disorder, it is essential to develop a positive mindset as attacks can be triggered by negative emotions and thoughts. So work your relationship with positivity. You can do this by practicing gratitude, adopting interesting hobbies to occupy your free time, setting life goals to fuel your ambition, hanging out with nice people, and focusing on self-care.
2. Exercise regularly
Physical exercises are great allies of mental health care! Regular exercise produces the so-called “happiness hormones”, which help maintain a good mood and regulate emotions. You feel the positive effects of moving your body right after the practice.
Exercise also calms the mind and releases tension from the body, helping people to maintain a calm emotional state in everyday life. Anyone who suffers from panic attacks can benefit greatly from their regular practice.
Choose a sport or physical activity, such as running or walking, to do every day or a few times a week. If you don’t like physical exercise, remind yourself that exercise is necessary to take care of both your mental and physical health.
3. Organize your routine
In addition to being a source of comfort for those with anxiety and panic disorder, a structured routine reduces stress.
When you know exactly what you are going to do during the day or week, you will be less likely to encounter unforeseen events and anxious thoughts. Thus, you can enjoy the pleasant moments of your day without worrying about other pending issues.
However, as you build your plan, you need to remember that not all factors in life are fully controllable. Daily or weekly organization gives you a sense of security, but you also need to be open to the possibility of encountering setbacks and needing to change your plans.
Use the daily routine as a guide, not a rule that can never be broken.