5 Tips for Dealing with Panic Attacks in Public

90d7a21093577c02cc7a977e8f4f4899For anyone who suffers from anxiety or panic attacks, you know that the problem is usually made worse in public, when you’re unable to escape the public eye. Some people become so worried about this, they might choose to not leave the house at all. This can turn into a feeling of isolation that can make a person more prone to panic attacks.

That’s why it’s important that people learn how to deal with their panic attacks, even in public places. Here are 5 tips for dealing with panic attacks in public.

Start moving – Many people who feel a panic attack coming on make the mistake of sitting down. This can actually cause the problem to get worse, as you become entirely focused on the panic attack. Moving will actually help distract you and help you return your breathing to normal. When you feel a panic attack coming on, it’s best to start walking at a brisk pace in order to alleviate the symptoms.

Find something to focus on – If you can’t move or if you’re in a place where a brisk walk would be impossible, find a focal point and start breathing. Pick any focal point that interest you and concentrate on only that. The faster you can distract yourself from the upcoming panic, the better. Some people like to carry something comforting with them, but just about anything will work if it’s interesting enough to keep your attention.

Try food or water – Panic attacks can have many triggers. For some people hunger or thirst can act as a trigger and your body might be signaling to you that it’s dehydrated or low on sugar. Carry a bottle of water and some candy in order to stave off episodes related to this. Many times, a panic attack might be a sign from your body that something is physically wrong. Try food and water first and you might find that panic attack ending early.

Phone a friend – If you’re alone, you might try phoning a friend if the panic attack gets really bad. Again, the key is distraction, so don’t discuss the panic attack. Instead, focus on anything else that you can. Make plans for the weekend or discuss a movie you want to see. Above all, you need to distract yourself from the cause of your panic. An understanding friend can be a great asset for someone who deals with panic attacks, so make sure to keep one or two on speed dial.

Don’t be ashamed – Know that you’re not alone. Millions of American’s suffer from panic attacks just like you. You’ll probably find that more people will be sympathetic than judgmental, as they might have their own problems.

If you do have an attack in public, don’t beat yourself up about it and don’t feel like you need to hide yourself away. Everyone has their own problems and they are usually forgiving of other people’s as well. Mental health issues affect a large amount of the population and people aren’t afraid to talk about it anymore. Instead, know that the panic attacks aren’t your fault and are no reason to feel ashamed.

Dan Harris Discusses his on Air Panic Attack but Does he Give Off the Wrong Message?

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For most people they look at this video and think “What freak out?”, “What is Dan Harris Talking about”.    For those of us who know and live with anxiety we now exactly which freak out.  We can spot it the second it starts to happen and like Dan we are an expert at bailing out gracefully. We get up abruptly to take a fake phone call, we run out the store as if we left the wallet in the car, we check out pockets and say we forgot our keys and pretend to run back somewhere.  My ability to relate to this, actually makes the video below hard to watch.

I’ve had panic attacks before but never in front of millions of people.  Here is a super successful individual, with all the resources in the world available to him and he is having the same panic attack issues that I’m having and revealing this issue to his fans.

So what drove him to this? 

Dan, in his book states that the use of recreational drugs is what prompted the attack that you see on air.  He says because of his anxiety that he self-medicated which caused his panic attack.  During the report shown below he states that,

it was those recreational drugs, my doctor would later tell me, that almost certainly produced that on-air panic attack. But losing it in front of 5 million people became a turning point. It set me off on a strange, unplanned odyssey.

I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT STATEMENT

think that is an excuse.  I don’t think that it was the drugs – which he later reveals was ecstasy and cocaine.  Yes, they probably helped the panic attacked but I would not say produced.  This leads the general population to believe that anxiety sufferers must be doing something wrong.  This takes away from his message that “anyone can suffer” from this.

If my friends and family read this story, they will never understand what I’m going through.  In fact they might think I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing that’s why I’m having he problems I’m having.

While I commend Dan for revisiting this and revealing the issue; I think  as one of the top news reporters in the country he should have been slightly more responsible in the statements that he put out regarding this and the promotion of his book.  He should be an expert at releasing the right message to the media.

He should have made it clear that the anxiety and panic attacks caused him to take the drugs, not that taking the drugs caused the panic attack.  If he removes that statement – then the message becomes clear.  I would love to get feedback on this, what do you think?

Here is the news story below.

Driving Anxiety: How to Handle a Panic Attack While driving

screen-shot-2013-12-16-at-1-47-20-pmMost commonly called driving anxiety; this could prove to be very dangerous, especially because it typically happens during the most precarious parts of a drive.  This is when adrenaline is released in your body and triggers the panic symptoms; driving on the side of a tractor trailer, driving over a long bridge, driving down a long windy two lane road.  Those are just a few scenarios that could generate anxiety and many times It happens with very little warning.

Most common root causes are the memories of being in an accident.  It doesn’t matter if you were the driver or not.  Other root causes could be totally non car related.  A person can be going through so much personally that the sense of danger pushes them over the edge.  It could be a family member that’s ill, a bitter divorce or the loss of a job.

Now that we know that it can happen to any of us, and why.  What do we do when it happens.  Here are 5 tips that will help you out if you are experiencing “Driving Anxiety”:

  1. Your favorite song – listen to your favorite music.  This will bring you to a place mentally where you are familiar.  Many times you associate your favorite song with good times so this will help to lower stress and remind you of better times.
  2. Snack – have some light things to snack on like fruits or nuts.  This will keep your body busy giving it something to do rather than releasing adrenaline.
  3. Have your Cell phone handy – This will give you a sense of peace.  You know that if something happened you can make a phone call and help is on its way.
  4. If you are having an attack, try and pull over immediately.  Get out of the car and walk around taking deep breaths.  Walk around, call a friend, do anything to get your mind off of driving.  If you can’t get out of the car, then pull over drop the seat back, put your head back and just take deep breaths until it’s over.
  5. Keep some water in the car.  If you are having an attack drink slowly.  This will force you to slow down your breathing and open your body up, slowing down the adrenaline.

The most important thing is don’t ignore it if you are having an attack.  If you don’t address it, it could possibly get worse.  Embrace that it’s happening and have confidence that you can get through it.