A panic attack isn’t just an overwhelming feeling of fear or dread. It can involve debilitating physical symptoms, and the experience can be so frightening that a sufferer might assume they’re having a heart attack.
A panic attack can occur out of the blue and then never happen again. But some people struggle with panic attacks daily. Worst of all, panic attacks can happen anywhere. The fear of having a panic attack in public only worsens the sufferer’s anxiety.
If panic attacks keep you homebound, you may feel isolated, but you’re not alone. Many people who deal with persistent panic attacks face the same dilemma.
Here are a few simple steps to help you begin working through your fear.
Are you nervous about going out in public because you’re worried that you’ll have a panic attack? You don’t have to face your fears all by yourself. Talk to someone who understands. Ask if they would be willing to accompany you on a few errands.
A trusted friend or close relative can help you attend to your responsibilities and take care of your to-do list if panic attacks keep you homebound. Choose someone who understands what panic attacks are and knows how to calm you down if you experience one.
Do you find crowds overwhelming? If you know that you’re more likely to have a panic attack when you’re in a room full of people, plan your schedule accordingly.
For example, instead of going to the grocery store on a Saturday afternoon when many people will be out shopping, head over early on a Sunday morning instead when most people will either be sleeping in or going to church.
Sometimes, just sticking to a few healthy habits can make a major difference in your anxiety levels. If panic attacks keep you homebound, ask yourself if there is anything you can do that might help you prepare to go out in public.
For instance, have you eaten? Drank plenty of water? Have you gotten enough sleep, or are you relying on caffeine to buoy you through the day? You can even spend a few minutes meditating or doing yoga before heading out the door to bring your stress levels down. Every little bit helps!
Maybe you haven’t heard the phrase “desensitization” before. But you’re probably familiar with the concept of visualization. To practice desensitization and alleviate your anxiety before leaving your house, take a few moments to visualize where you’ll be going and what you’ll be doing.
Picture yourself in the situation and take slow, deep breaths. Imagine yourself handling all of your responsibilities, in total control, feeling steady and relaxed.
The more time you spend visualizing yourself leaving the house and feeling fine in public, the better prepared you will be when you’re ready to go out. This tactic helps you “desensitize” yourself to the settings that cause anxiety.
If panic attacks keep you homebound, you will probably want to start working with a therapist. Because this can hold you back from fully participating in your own life, it’s best to seek professional help to address the problem.
Naturally, if you’re nervous about leaving your house, the idea of going to therapy can seem quite intimidating. See if a friend or relative would be willing to drive you to your first couple sessions to help you ease into it. Working with a therapist can help you leave panic attacks behind and start the new phase of your life.
Ready to start anxiety therapy in San Diego? Contact us today to schedule your first session and see how therapy can help you move past panic attacks. Or, visit here to learn more.