What is Anxiety?
If you’ve made it to this page, chances are you’ve been struggling, or know someone struggling, with anxiety or panic attacks. It might feel like you’re completely going crazy or like you are physically dying- but, believe or not, there are actually scientific reasons for why our bodies trigger this response! Anxiety is supposed to be a normal reaction to stressful or dangerous situations- you’ve probably heard about the “fight or flight” response. Basically, when the human mind perceives something as a threat, the body takes over and either fights for life or runs for it. This is incredibly useful in places where there could be a real threat such as a wild lion chasing you, but if we’re being honest not many people are faced with those kinds of threats in today’s society. Unfortunately, due to years of the human brain perfecting this response, it can get kicked into overdrive. This means that now most of the time when this response is triggered there’s no real threat. Honestly, I can be in the middle of a grocery store and randomly start breaking out in sweat with my heart racing and get tunnel vision and BAM have a panic attack right then and there.
There are also different types of anxiety disorders and PTSD that are caused from life situations, traumatic experiences or even other illnesses. It’s very important to see your doctor to rule out any other diseases and get properly diagnosed so you can treat the heart of the problem. Therapy can do wonders for people with anxiety, PTSD and panic attacks. I did EMDR and cognitive behavioral therapy for years until I felt I could get it under control on my own. Now I go back whenever I feel I need a “tune up” but overall, I’ve learned how to manage my anxiety and recognize what it is.
Anxiety can present itself anytime, anywhere with a variety of symptoms. The most common symptoms are shaking, racing heart, dizziness, stomach issues, headaches.. but there are also a lot of symptoms people don’t talk about. Some of the less common symptoms I’ve experienced are depersonalization, derealization, fainting, intrusive thoughts and an overwhelming sensitivity of my senses. Every anxiety symptom is very real and terrifying. The best thing you can do is accept what it is and keep reminding yourself that it’s anxiety while it’s happening while trying to roll with it. I know this is almost an impossible task, but the more you try to redirect your mind to positive thoughts when it happens, the more your brain will associate that there is actually no threat. Over time, it will lessen how much it perceives that situation as a threat, and you’ll be able to ease your panic attacks a lot quicker. It’s important to note, some anxiety is good! Anxiety before a test or first date is totally normal and are normal human emotions, but sometimes you can develop a disorder and constantly be worried and in fear. When it starts affecting the quality of your life, it is definitely time to reach out and get help from a licensed professional.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States and is highly treatable, but less than 40% of those suffering seek treatment and get help. Don’t be afraid to tell someone how you’re feeling because chances are, they’ve experienced too. In a world where everyone seems perfect on social media, it’s important to remember that things are often not as they seem. You are not alone and you will get through this!
Free Hotline Numbers
If you or someone you love is experiencing panic attacks, panic disorder helplines can be a useful resource to get through crisis and find a treatment program.
Panic Disorder Information Hotline: 1-800-64-PANIC (72642)
For many who experience panic attacks, it can be helpful to speak to someone who understands what they’re going through during an attack. The compassionate staff at the panic disorder hotline can provide information about what happens during an attack and provide tips to help get through the attack. This number is available to those in crisis, as well as those who are just seeking more information about the disorder.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
If your panic attacks are accompanied by suicidal thoughts or just a feeling of hopelessness, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free hotline open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide support for people in crisis and distress. Their national network of local crisis centers provide completely confidential guidance and can connect you to resources to help treat your panic disorder.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
SAMHSA’s free, 24/7 hotline provides referrals to therapists, counselors, treatment programs, and support groups in your area. They also have an online behavioral health treatment services locator, so you can find resources for yourself or a loved one who struggles with panic disorder.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
The NAMI Helpline is available Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. Helpline staff and volunteers are there to answer your questions about panic attacks and other mental health issues. They can answer questions about local services and support groups and refer you to a crisis helpline if needed.
Teen Line: 1-310-855-HOPE (4673) or 1-800-TLC-TEEN (1-800-852-8336)
Coping with panic attacks can be especially difficult for teenagers, who face a unique set of stressors in school and at home. This helpline allows teens in crisis to connect with other teens who understand what they’re going through. The service can also be reached by texting “TEEN” to 839863.
We are in no way, shape, or form a doctor or medical professional. Our advice and products are based solely from our own experiences and things that have helped us with mental health issues. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition to rule out underlying causes.