Let’s talk about mental health: anxiety and panic attacks

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, but it’s important that we talk about mental health all year round. All week we will be discussing mental health.

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Everyone has uttered the phrase ‘I’m feeling really anxious today,’ but how much do we really know about anxiety?

ANXIETY

It’s a condition that can be debilitating and result in crippling panic attacks that affects people’s daily lives.

Feelings of worry, being tense or experiencing fear are normal. We can all feel anxious at times too, especially when coping with stressful events or life changes, particularly events that could be life changing.

However, anxiety can become debilitating when your feelings are heightened to the point your daily life is impacted.

PROBLEMATIC

Anxiety can be a problem if feelings are incredibly strong, last a long time, it is out of proportion to the current situation or you avoid situations that make you feel anxious.

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The mental health charity Mindhas described the feeling of anxiety from one of their volunteers, it reads: “You know that feeling when you’re rocking on the back legs of your chair and suddenly for just a split second you think you’re about to fall; that feeling in your chest? Imagine that split-second feeling being frozen in time and lodged in your chest for minutes/hours/days, and imagine with it that sense of impending doom and dread sticking around too, but sometimes you don’t even know why.”

One common symptom of extreme anxiety is a panic attack. You’ve heard of fright or flight? It’s a term used to describe how individual people react to a scary situation. A panic attack is quite literally a response to fear and is your body exaggerating the response to danger, stress or excitement.

PANIC ATTACKS

A panic attack can result in a pounding or racing heartbeat, feeling faint, dizzy or lightheaded all the way to feeling completely disconnected from your mind, body and current surroundings.

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Panic attacks can come on at any time and people who live with the constant worry of having an attack have seen a detrimental impact on their daily lives. From not being able to leave the house, unable to attend appointments or work, having a constant fear you might die: anxiety and panic attacks are serious mental health conditions, but there is support available.

SUPPORT

There are treatments available for anxiety and panic attacks that can be provided by your GP. Firstly, your doctor may advise self-help resources such as exercise, computer-based CBT programmes, or even adult colouring books. However, medical treatment is available if self-help methods don’t support your individual needs.

Medications can vary from antidepressants, beta-blockers to Benzodiazepine tranquillisers, which is for people who experience severe anxiety that impacts on their daily life.

If you, or someone you know needs support, visit:

Anxiety UK

03444 775 775 (Monday–Friday 9.30am–5.30pm)
anxietyuk.org.uk

No More Panic

nomorepanic.co.uk 

Samaritans

116 123 (24 hours a day)
jo@samaritans.org

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