Panic Attacks & Anxiety Attacks
and How to Soothe Them
Panic attacks are a special form of anxiety that can appear quite differently from person to person! Because the symptoms can vary so widely, you may not recognize whether or not you’re actually having panic attacks.
Common Symptoms of Panic Attacks
While severity and types of symptoms vary, there are common symptoms that appear in most cases.
- Muscle aches and body soreness. Occasionally, people will mistake a panic attack for a full-blown heart attack. Panic attacks can cause some scary aches and pains to develop in the body. Often, these happen in the chest, leading a person to think they’re actually having a heart attack rather than a panic attack.
- Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea
- Headaches, especially tension ones. I have a Headache Relief program that utilizes visualizations, affirmations, and subliminal programming.
- Rapid heart rate. Panic attacks are known to cause spikes in heart rate. When you’re in panic mode, your body initiates its “fight or flight” response – as you’re deciding whether you’re going to run away from a situation or tackle it head-on, your body speeds up your heart rate to prepare you for quick action.
- Trembling or shaking uncontrollably. A common panic attack symptom is shaking or trembling. Many people who experience this symptom notice it most in their hands often causing them to avoid using their hands during a panic attack because the shaking is intense and quite visible to others around them.
- Excessive sweating. Even in the coldest of rooms, sweating occurs in some people experiencing panic attacks. Sweating is your body’s method of cooling itself down when you’re feeling heated. Despite being in a cool or comfortable environment, experiencing a panic attack can cause your body to launch itself into the same “cool down” procedure in an attempt to bring down your body temperature.
- High blood pressure
- Weakness or fatigue
- Tingling or numbness
- Dry mouth
- Feeling lightheaded or faint
- Brain fog and difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty breathing. sometimes this is described as feeling like you have a tight or compressed chest wall that may be accompanied by rapid breathing and shortness of breath. Some people describe this sensation as hyperventilation while others describe it as struggling to take in a full, deep breath. Regardless of the difficulty breathing, the feeling is you can’t refresh yourself with oxygen quickly enough.
- Fear of losing control or going “crazy.”
- Spacing out or feeling as if you’re in an out-of-body experience, like a dream. Panic attacks can cause some people to feel like they’re observing themselves from the outside, as if they’re in a dream or watching someone else play out their actions. This common sign of a panic attack is the body’s way of protecting yourself from having to deal immediately with the effects of whatever is causing you to feel anxious or stressed in the moment.
Understand Key Differences Between Anxiety Attacks And Panic Attacks
People who suffer from anxiety disorders have probably heard the terms “anxiety attack” and “panic attack” used interchangeably. People often use both phrases to refer to the same thing, although they are not quite the same.
Learning the difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks can be confusing because the two conditions share some key symptoms. However, learning the differences between the two and being able to differentiate them is important – it can help you better understand what you’re experiencing if you have a panic attack or an anxiety attack.
What Makes Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attacks Similar?
Panic attacks and anxiety attacks share some major symptoms. These are typically pretty obvious symptoms, which is why the two conditions are often confused with one another.
Both types of attacks generally involve an increased heart rate and feeling shortness of breath. These symptoms are uncomfortable and obvious to the person experiencing them. In the heat of the moment of a panic attack or anxiety attack, realizing that the heart is beating quickly and that breathing is difficult feels frightening, making these two symptoms the most obvious ones that require soothing and attention first.
What Makes Anxiety Attacks Different from Panic Attacks?
Anxiety attacks are usually a “slow burn” attack. When they appear, it’s usually through a series of gradual symptoms that evolve into something more intense and extreme, such as the increased heart rate and difficulty breathing.
The symptoms that accompany an anxiety attack form over time. For example, a person experiencing anxiety attacks usually notice new symptoms appearing and worsening as the anxiety continues, such as sore muscles, tension, unpredictable mood swings, and disrupted sleeping patterns.
What Makes Panic Attacks Different from Anxiety Attacks?
The differences between panic and anxiety are best described in terms of the intensity of the symptoms and the length of time the main symptoms occur. Panic attacks usually peak at around 10 minutes while anxiety can last for months.
When people think of panicking, they may imagine people running around aimlessly and shouting in confusion during some chaotic event. This is a great way to describe what’s happening inside the mind and body of someone experiencing a panic attack!
Unlike the “slow burn” approach of an oncoming anxiety attack, panic attacks are much quicker to appear. They can form based on exposure to a trigger or from existing anxiety.
A panic attack feels very sudden and extreme compared to an oncoming anxiety attack. People who experience panic attacks notice quick-formed symptoms such as chest pains, shaking, trembling, and feeling disconnected from themselves and/or the world around them. Unlike the slow development of anxiety attack symptoms, panic attacks make themselves obvious and known quickly.
Panic attacks can leave a person feeling utterly exhausted once they’ve ended. Because panic attacks emerge and ripple through the body so violently and suddenly, they can wipe a person’s energy completely.
People can experience anxiety attacks and panic attacks at the same time. Both types of attacks fall under an overarching anxiety umbrella. Because panic attacks are so quick, they can happen within the existing anxiety attack also happening. In fact, anxiety attacks can spark the formation of a sudden panic attack – as all that anxiety mounts and makes a person feel more stressed, it can trigger a sudden burst of panic that leads straight into a panic attack. When a person suffers from chronic anxiety, such as generalized anxiety disorder, they can begin to notice the gradual developing symptoms of an anxiety attack anytime.
7 Common Ways People Form Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders can form at any point in a person’s life. This can make these mental health challenges difficult to source and track. Understanding why you form anxiety disorders can make it easier to treat such extreme emotional distress.
Anxiety Source 1: You have an intense phobia of a particular situation.
Phobias, or intense fears of particular situations or objects, are common causes of anxiety disorders. A person with a phobia often develops anxiety surrounding the thought or possibility of encountering their specific fear trigger. The notion that they could encounter their phobia at any given time in the world is enough to cause intense anxiety. Over time, especially if the person doesn’t seek treatment for the phobia, a full-blown anxiety disorder can develop surrounding the fear. Check out my audible and sublimal program: Freedom from Fears & Phobias.
Anxiety Source 2: You had significant trauma at some point in your life.
Trauma is one of the biggest contributing factors of developing an anxiety disorder. Different people experience and process trauma in a variety of ways – for example, something that isn’t traumatizing to one individual may be incredibly painful and difficult for another.
When an event is described as traumatic, it means whatever happened was so terrifying and scarring that it left a permanent mental reminder of the event in the person’s mind. Often, trauma anxiety is referred to as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many people tend to associate PTSD with military personnel who have witnessed distressing, horrifying scenes in combat. While this is absolutely a reality for many servicemen and women, PTSD can affect anyone who witnesses or experiences something troubling or frightening, no matter their age or circumstances. This is because trauma impacts the subconscious mind and therefore must be addressed at that level. My comprehensive Live Stress Free program addresses stress causes at both conscious and subconscious levels.
Anxiety Source 3: You had an adverse social or career interaction.
Bad experiences with social or work related interactions can lead to the formation of social anxiety. Once referred to as social phobia, social anxiety involves extreme stress and worry surrounding interactions with other people – this anxiety can be triggered by speaking engagements, interactions with strangers, or telephone calls, to name a few.
Social anxiety can form after a person has a truly adverse social interaction, such as embarrassing themselves in front of a crowd or being bullied by a group of peers. These adverse social interactions serve to cement a fear of being social once those emotions settle in, causing the person to start associating social interactions with stress. My Be More Assertive program utilizes visualizations, affirmations, and subliminal programming to support your confidence in social and work situations. Experience the ultra-effective subconscious programming techniques with Be More Assertive that reinforce and strengthen appropriate assertive thinking at a subconscious level. You will automatically begin expressing your feelings, thoughts, and opinions with confidence and self-assurance under all circumstances.
Anxiety Source 4: You experienced a major life-altering event or change.
When a person is forced to go through major life changes, developing issues with anxiety is often a possibility. As the person’s world shifts in the wake of a major life-altering event or change, it’s difficult to feel anything familiar or stable as they learn to navigate life again and establish a new sense of normalcy. This can lead to a lot of worry and stress. Some examples of life-altering events and changes include…
- The death of a close friend, relative, or pet
- A sudden accident or injury
- Moving to a brand new, unfamiliar place
- Losing a job
- Starting a brand new job
- Becoming a parent
When you go through a major life altering event you need self-empowerment to remain stable and successful. My Mind Power for Self-Empowerment program is my most comprehensive program for this.
Anxiety Source 5: You are experiencing an ongoing personal issue that can’t be resolved quickly.
Human beings are fantastic problem solvers; they love to find solutions to problems quickly so they can return to a sense of balance and homeostasis in their lives. However, life isn’t always easy to fix and navigate, and people often experience issues that can’t be resolved quickly. When a person finds themselves facing an issue that can’t be solved quickly, anxiety can form. Some examples of these types of problems include…
- Financial stress
- An illness or injury that requires time to cure/treat
- Stress from a job
- Issues with a family member, such as a child struggling in school
In situations like these, solutions aren’t always immediate or easy to determine. When a person has to learn to live with the daily stress and navigate these problems slowly, anxiety can form.
Anxiety Source 6: You have a personality type that tends to be more sensitive to developing issues with anxiety.
Some personalities are more susceptible to developing issues with anxiety. For example, most people fall into two major personality categories: Introverted or extroverted.
Extroverts are people who enjoy being social. They aren’t nervous about voicing their opinions, speaking to new people, or being vulnerable with others. On the contrary, introverts are the opposite – they are typically more reserved, shy, and quiet. They may hold back their personalities until they develop a comfort level with their surroundings. People who tend to be somewhat introverted often develop anxiety in uncomfortable situations involving others.
While there are thousands of factors that play into the complexities of a human being’s personality formation, these two rough divisions of comfort with sociability can influence a person’s likelihood of forming an anxiety disorder. People who tend to identify as introverted are more likely to be anxious. My Mind Power—Inner Vision to Recreate Your Future has a tremendous amount of resources to support your success in all areas of your life. This is the perfect program to help you realize the heights of your potential with proven methods that synchronize your subconscious mind with your highest goals and desires.
Anxiety Source 7: Your family has an ongoing history of issues with anxiety.
Anxiety formation sometimes has a genetic component. If you have a history of anxiety disorders running in your family history, it can make you more susceptible to developing one as well. Many people believe mental health issues are solely related to experiences, but this isn’t the case. While experiencing certain events can trigger problems with mental health, certain genetic markers can make people more likely to develop mental health challenges during their lifetimes. Just as some people are born with a disposition to be more easygoing and relaxed, others are born with a disposition to worry and fret. Sometimes subtle-energy work can alleviate this cause of anxiety.
Strategies for Soothing Yourself During a Panic Attack
While panic attacks can certainly be scary, inconvenient, and unpredictable, there are some strategies you can use to help squash them (or even stop them before they have a chance to really get started).
If you struggle to manage your anxiety, you know there are certain situations where you can’t easily avoid your difficult feelings. For example, if you struggle with anxiety in the workplace or other social situations, you know that a sudden rush of anxiety (or worse, a full-blown anxiety attack) can leave you feeling defeated, embarrassed, and exhausted afterward. Fortunately, there are some basic ways you can use to squash some common anxiety challenges. Some of those strategies include…
1. Keep the people you consider part of your support system close.
Talking about anxiety and panic attacks can be challenging. You may feel embarrassed when anxiety takes over and leaves you struggling to move on with your daily business. However, learning to reach out to someone you trust when your anxiety begins to escalate into a panic attack is a great way to soothe yourself – make a plan to call or text a friend the next time you feel a panic attack beginning.
When you feel the weight of anxiety and panic, make sure people you consider part of your support system are nearby in case you need them. When you feel overwhelmed, make a plan to get in touch with someone you trust either in person, over the phone, through video chat, or however else you can easily speak with them. Talking to someone in your support system about how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing can help soothe anxiety.
2. Keep a detailed record of your anxieties, worries, and fears.
A good way to combat anxiety is to understand what’s causing it in the first place. When you experience an anxiety attack or panic attack, your thoughts may be moving quickly, swirling between vortexes of negative thoughts. When this happens, your mind can feel “foggy,” making it difficult to completely understand what’s actually causing you to feel anxious.
Keep a journal you update with a list of reasons why you’ve been feeling anxious, You can include a list of specific topics that drive your anxiety, thoughts you’ve been experiencing, and anything else that’s relevant to why you’re feeling the way you do. As you look back over these written records, you can use them to detect patterns in your anxiety and begin to address those patterns in a systematic way. The roots of anxiety often determine the best pathway for treating it, so keeping records is a great way to do that. My Freedom from Anxiety program with audible and subliminal affirmations offers very helpful support with your symptoms.
3. Keep sour candies on hand.
Yes, you read that right – sour candy can help redirect your spiraling thoughts when you catch yourself falling down a rabbit hole of negative thoughts. When you begin to feel anxious thoughts arise, pop a sour candy into your mouth. The sudden, unexpected burst of flavor quickly sends signals to your brain that you’ve just encountered a new sensation. As your brain works to process the flavor it’s experiencing on your tongue, your mind is immediately distracted from the anxious thoughts. Sour candy works best for this exercise because the sudden, extreme burst of sour flavor redirects your brain’s sensory power to the new, exotic taste in your mouth. As your tongue tastes the ultra-sour candy, it stops its prior thought pattern to focus on this new sensation it’s experiencing. If sour flavored foods aren’t your thing, you can choose something else with an intense flavor. Any food with a sharp, tangy, or unusual flavor, such as hot sauce or wasabi creates the same effect. This odd little trick is a tasty way to trick yourself out of entering a panic attack.
4. Practice breathing techniques.
Many folks struggling with anxiety are all too familiar with the “can’t catch your breath” sensation of an anxiety attack. You may feel your chest tightening, as if you can’t take a deep breath.
Deep breathing exercises are excellent ways to calm your anxiety, especially if you experience physical symptoms such as struggling to take deep breaths.
Many folks struggling with anxiety are all too familiar with the “can’t catch your breath” sensation of an anxiety attack. If you’ve ever experienced this sensation, you may recall feeling your chest tighten to the point where you feel like you can’t take in any deep breaths.
Because many panic attack sufferers struggle to breathe during an attack, the 4x4x4 breathing method can help you regain control of your breath patterns again. Forcing yourself to focus on your breathing by counting is an excellent way to focus your attention on your present, physical self rather than the panic.
If you experience this sensation, take a deep breath in through your nose while slowly counting to four. Once you have the deep breath held inside your lungs, hold it there for another count of four. At the end, release the breath through your mouth for another count of four. Using this measured method for taking and releasing breaths can help your mind focus on the task at hand – getting fresh air into your lungs – and release the anxious grip your mind is holding over your body.
Repeat this pattern as many times as necessary to loosen your chest and regain control of your breathing again. Forcing yourself to focus on your breathing pattern is a great way to get your attention directed toward something else other than your anxiety while also regulating your breath.
5. Change your scenery.
During a panic attack, try to separate yourself from your current environment by changing where you are. Step outside, go for a walk, or find a private room where you can do measured breathing, and/or listen to relaxation visualization recordings, soothing music, or affirmations. If you’re able, try to find a spot where you can sit down with the lights dimmed and take a few private moments to enact some other soothing techniques. Wherever you can, removing yourself from the current environment where the panic attack is happening can help you refocus your attention and energy in your new space. Often, removing yourself from the environment where the panic attack initiated is key to slowing or stopping it.
6. Use something cold to give yourself another sensory shock.
The purpose of this is to give your nervous system a bit of a shock, causing your brain to focus on a new and surprising sensation rather than your anxiety.
To practice this trick, you’ll need something cold, such as an ice cube, a cold cloth, or an ice pack, or ice water. As you feel anxiety mounting, hold an ice cube firmly in your fist and focus on the cold sensation and how it feels on your palm. You can take the ice pack or cold cloth and hold it on your face or the back of your neck for a similar effect. You could also put an ice cube in your mouth. Focus on the sensation of feeling cold and where that sensation is happening on your body. As you focus on the cold feeling, your anxiety will begin to weaken.
7. Find a positive affirmation that works well for you and use it as a mantra when you feel anxiety.
Positive affirmations make fantastic mantras. They’re short, succinct phrases that serve as truthful reminders when it’s difficult to focus on anything else, such as when you’re experiencing an anxiety attack. Your coping statement can be whatever works best for you and makes you feel better. Consider one of the following examples (or come up with a few of your own):
- This will pass.
- I can get through this.
- This feeling is temporary.
- I am OK.
- This is not a heart attack.
- I’m strong enough to push through.
- I am calmly in control
- I naturally feel calm and relaxed
Keep your statements written down somewhere you will see them often. Repeat the statements to yourself (either out loud or in your head) when you feel anxiety.
8. Understand what anxiety feels like for you so it’s easier to identify it when an anxiety attack begins to happen.
Anxiety can be a bit mysterious and mystifying – the way it affects you may be completely different from the way it affects your friends, family, or coworkers. Understanding what anxiety feels like to you is key to identifying when anxiety attacks are about to strike and how to address it.
Get accustomed to your specific symptoms, and when you feel an anxiety or panic attack looming, physically “call it out.” You can say something out loud to yourself, such as “this is just an anxiety feeling.” Verbalizing what it is and not what it isn’t like something more serious can help ease the anxiety before it has a chance to wreak havoc.