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Thoughts are not facts. Thoughts are not actions. Don’t believe everything you think.

Anxiety and Panic

Experiencing general anxiety can feel overwhelming. Sometimes our mind and body can get so overwhelmed that it leads to a panic attack. Some people have a gradual build up and can get a sense of when they might be going into a panic attack soon, while others are hit with them unexpectedly. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, panic attacks are characterized by a sudden wave of fear or discomfort or a sudden sense of losing control even when there is no clear danger or trigger. Let’s dive into what causes these episodes and common symptoms of panic attacks.


Panic Attacks: Causes and Symptoms

Panic attacks are frequently caused by a buildup of anxiety or being exposed to a trigger. A trigger can be anything that leads you to have an adverse emotional reaction, such as an object, a smell, a song, etc. Whatever the trigger may be, it typically brings you back to a time, typically when you were much smaller, when you experienced great fear or anxiety. Our bodies hold onto these memories and can have physical reactions once reintroduced to the trigger in adulthood. Triggers can stem back to anything that was very distressing to your body, such as memories of childhood trauma, painful events, or even adulthood traumas such as betrayal trauma, infidelity, domestic violence, etc. They can also include ongoing every day stressors. We often ignore the “little, everyday stressors” but let’s not forget, then add up. The National Institute of Mental Healths lists common symptoms of panic attacks as:

  • A feeling of being out of control, or a fear of death or impending doom
  • Pounding/racing heart
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Stomach pain or nausea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness/dizziness 
  • Trembling
  • Chills 


Panic Attacks and Nervous System Regulation

Panic attacks can make you feel out of control of your own mind and body, but there are ways to regain that control. One way of regaining control over our bodies when experiencing a panic attack is practicing nervous system regulation. Nervous system regulation is having the ability to know when your nervous system is overwhelmed or dysregulated, and finding ways to regulate, even just a little bit. Developing these tools does not happen overnight, and it can be especially helpful to learn and practice these tools with an experienced mental health professional. There are many modalities that you can look for in a therapist for treatment of anxiety and panic attacks. Your therapist will give you skills to cope with feelings of anxiety,  (using so many amazing modalities like mindfulness, CBT, ACT, DBT, Resourcing, etc.) while also looking at the experiences that started the anxiety in the first place (trauma work using other trauma modalities like EMDR, AF-EMDR, Polyvagal,etc.) Begin your search for a therapist in your area today to regain control of your mind and body.