How To Understand And Manage Your Anxiety And Panic Disorder

By Layana Reghunath

It is normal to panic and feel anxious from time to time. But when your worry turns into unnecessary fears and starts affecting your day-to-day activities, it becomes an anxiety disorder. If you are one such person, follow our tips below to bring your life back on track. People undergoing anxiety and panic disorder may feel like they are having a serious medical issue because the symptoms suddenly appear. Anxiety disorders have become a common disease, affecting more than 40% of the population. 

Whenever you are experiencing intense fear about something or someone, you must realise that you have anxiety and panic disorder. It may affect your mood, cognitive capabilities and sometimes even physical functioning. In severe cases, you may feel restless, have difficulty concentrating, and experience muscle aches, sleep problems and fatigue. Even though you may have these symptoms for months, very few realise they have an anxiety and panic disorder. They go to the doctor or a massage parlour because of sleep issues or difficulty relaxing. In fact, for such people worrying is a part of life, and hence they don’t seek help for stress. Therefore, it is essential to realise your medical condition and get treatment. A person undergoing panic attacks may experience intense fear and feel out of control, as if they will die. Physically, you may experience muscle tightness and difficulty breathing. If you are undergoing all these symptoms, don’t worry; we will help you heal. Follow our tips below and get rid of your anxiety and panic disorder

Rule out other medical conditions

You may have similar symptoms because of other medical conditions. It can also be due to the side effects of certain medications. If you are suddenly experiencing these symptoms, you should seek medical advice to rule out any other physical condition. Health conditions like low blood sugar, hormonal imbalances, an overactive thyroid gland, inner ear disorders, autoimmune disorders and dysfunction of the heart’sheart’s mitral valve can cause similar symptoms. Anxiety symptoms like dizziness, agitation, flushing, palpitations, tremors and fatigue can also result from medications like calcium channel blockers, codeine, ACE inhibitors, benzodiazepines and statins. You may mistake a panic attack for a heart attack, but make sure it is not that. 

Understand that you are not in danger

There are different types of anxiety, like general anxiety, separation anxiety, phobias, social anxiety, and panic attacks. According to the studies, it is normal for the body to signal to us that something is not right inside, and we need to act out quickly to prevent further damage. But when anxiety becomes over the top and starts affecting our daily activities, it turns into an anxiety disorder. 

Panic attacks happen suddenly and may come with physical symptoms like nausea, racing heart, irregular pulse and trembling. If someone has ever tried to forcefully hold you under the water, you might have felt terrible, right? A person having panic attacks experiences the same feelings. Many people consider panic attacks, stroke or heart attacks and think their life is in danger. They will rush to the emergency room because of these unusual symptoms. 

In generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), people will have repeated worry episodes and may experience restlessness, muscle tension, fatigue and sleep problems. They will always think about the worst situation and remain trapped in it for the rest of their lives. Negative thoughts like what if my partner is cheating on me, what if I lose my job and what if my kid gets into a car accident keep popping out of their minds every time. These symptoms can be alarming and frustrating at the same time. But the most crucial part is to realise that you are not in danger. Recognise that it was a false alarm. Even though you feel like going mad, in reality, you are not. They are just panic attacks that will wear off on their own after two to three minutes. Only people living with anxiety disorders can relate to this situation. 

Breathe in and out slowly

People suffering from anxiety and panic attacks often complain about chest pain mainly due to hyperventilating and tightening the chest muscles. They rush to the emergency room, gasping, and often have difficulty breathing. It can be scary for both the patient as well as the bystander. But remember not to tell the patient to take deep breaths. Instead, you can say to them to relax and breathe calmly. Ask them to close their mouths and breathe through their nose as slowly as possible. It will restore the carbon dioxide levels in the body and make the person feel much better.

In most cases, anxious people breathe faster, which causes lightheadedness and dizziness leading to more anxiety. If you can breathe six to eight times a body, your body signals your mind that everything is okay, making you relaxed within a few seconds. 

Follow a healthy diet

A balanced diet can help reduce your anxiety and stress to a great extent. It is the first step that you should take to heal yourself. Staying hydrated, having a healthy and balanced diet, and limiting the intake of caffeine and alcohol can bring positive changes in your life. You must also not skip your meals as it may cause a drop in sugar levels, making you jittery and worsening your anxiety. 

Exercise regularly

People often indulge in exercise to maintain a good physique. But studies have shown that exercise can reduce your anxiety to a great level. If you are a person who is not much into activity, you are more prone to anxiety and stress. Studies show that exercises like running activate the brain chemicals that help control anxiety. If you cannot indulge in strenuous activities, practice mindfulness through yoga and Tai Chi. Aerobic and non-aerobic exercises have proved to manage stress better. 

Understand your triggers

Genetics and upbringing contribute a lot to our anxiety. But there are specific triggers that can worsen your anxiety or may cause it to reoccur. A sudden change in the life of an anxious person can result in excessive worry and anxiety. They may get tensed in situations like having a baby, a sick child or getting laid off suddenly. After that, your elevated stress levels become so overwhelming that you won’twon’t be able to control it after a point and start affecting your brain and body. It may be your hallucination, or it can happen in reality, but your stress levels will be extremely high in both cases.

Those suffering from anxiety disorders will get triggered by anything that makes them uncomfortable, like crowds, flying or work pressure. At the same time, those suffering from panic attacks may get started by any type of physical change. Things like exercising or having sex can blow off their alarm button and cause panic attacks. In some severe cases, panic attacks can happen without triggers. 

Get enough sleep

Ideally, one must have a sleep routine and follow that to control your anxiety. When you don’t get enough sleep, mood swings happen, which will damage your ability to cope with your everyday stress, and you automatically fall into a vicious cycle. As per the studies, sleep directly connects with your brain and can affect your mental well-being. Excessive sleep deprivation creates an imbalance in hormone levels, increasing both your adrenaline levels and anxiety. Your mood automatically becomes bad with less sleep and affects your coping abilities, leading to more stress. 

Attend cognitive behavioural therapy

According to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), our thoughts and emotions are the root cause of all our problems. If we change our thinking patterns, we can easily manage our problems. You must understand that this learning can help you overcome all your fears and disorders. CBT helps people accept the reality that they are anxious and helps them recover from it by facing it. CBT follows two strategies. Your therapist will help you recognise your anxiety-generating thought patterns. For example, a socially anxious person will fear walking in a crowd because they believe everyone is watching them.

After realising your thoughts, the therapist will help in debunking them. This strategy identifies your inner fears and develops a plan to expose that situation. In this way, your fear of facing the fear gets relieved. 

Don’t let it affect your life

A person having frequent anxiety attacks will stop doing their day-to-day activities, which will further aid their anxiety level. For example, they may refuse medical treatment, thinking that the doctor may diagnose them with cancer or even stop visiting the zoo, thinking that alligators may eat them. Anxious people will avoid certain situations that cause panic attacks them. If you feel your anxiety disorder is going over the board, you must seek medical help as soon as possible. Since so many therapists are available, it isn’t easy to find the right one.

You must do some research before finalising on one particular therapist. Before booking an appointment, it would be great to clarify all your doubts, like their strategies, the exercise they follow, etc. Find out if they will ask you to do homework between the sessions and enquire about their theoretical orientation about the therapy. If you are consulting them for your child, ask them whether they will include parents also in the session. 

Consider alternate therapies

Not everyone is in favour of consulting a therapist. Such persons can look for other alternatives. For instance, Bibliotherapy is a targeted reading method to ease mental suffering. It works well for parents with kids or those suffering from mild anxiety. You can also take the help of technology to relieve your stress, as many apps have been developed to support mental health. Apps like Anxietycoach, Pacifica and Headspace have got a good response from patients in healing their problems. But remember to do a complete background study before choosing an app, just like you did while selecting a therapist. In some remote areas, finding a therapist can be challenging.

People in such areas can opt for teletherapy, with which you can communicate with your therapist through video conferencing. You can also seek help from an anxiety support group. There are a million ways to deal with your anxiety, provided you take the first step.


Feeling anxious in life is quite normal. But when it becomes overwhelming, you should treat it before it’s too late. Don’t feel shy or ashamed to talk about your problem and seek help. If you have any physical condition, you will go directly to the doctor and get it treated, right? It is just the same thing. But it is much bigger than this. Studies show all your problems arise only because of your mental state. So if you promise to treat it and help yourself heal, no one can stop you from leading a happy life. So, shed all your inhibitions and talk to your doctor. 

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