Ways to Manage Panic Disorder
Coping with panic disorder can feel overwhelming at times. Your condition can negatively impact your personal and professional life. Your symptoms may interfere with your relationships, career aspirations, personal goals, and overall quality of life.
The following describes different strategies to help you cope with panic disorder:
Get Professional Help
The road to recovery often begins through getting professional help. If you believe that you are experiencing the symptoms of panic disorder, call to make an appointment with your doctor. He or she will gather information about your symptoms and medical history for diagnostic purposes. This information will assist your doctor in making an accurate diagnosis and ruling out any potential related or co-occurring conditions.
There are numerous treatment options for panic disorder. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or panic-focused psychodynamic psychotherapy (PFPP), may help you develop healthier behaviors or manage emotional turmoil. Other options include medications for panic disorder that can alleviate anxiety and lessen the severity of panic attacks. Additionally, there are numerous self-help skills you can learn through books or with the assistance of a professional.
Knowledge is Power
Understanding the basics about panic disorder can help you to more effectively deal with your symptoms. It can be beneficial to gather information about the risk factors, causes of, and diagnostic criteria for panic disorder. Additional important facts to know include common related and co-occurring conditions, typical symptoms, and popular misconceptions about panic disorder.
Your doctor or therapist will be able to answer your questions and may also provide you with pamphlets and brochures that explain more about your condition. Other resources can be found online or through books at your local library. The more you know about your condition, the better able you will be to cope with and avoid common issues that are associated with panic disorder.
Invest in Self-Care
Self-care entails any activities you engage in to enhance your personal health and wellbeing. These practices typically involve addressing various aspects of your life, such as activities to improve your physical, spiritual, emotional, or creative parts of the self. For example, you may find that getting regular exercise, attending religious functions, or journal writing, help improve your overall wellness.
One of the best ways to cope with your condition is to maintain healthy habits and take care of yourself. By practicing self-care for panic disorder, you may be able to feel more balanced and in control of your life. Make an effort to participate in self-care activities that nourish, comfort, and revive your sense of self.
Learn to Relax
It’s hard to feel anxious when you are feeling calm and relaxed. That’s why it is important for people with panic disorder to practice and learn effective relaxation techniques. These exercises are designed to help you let go of tightness throughout the body, while releasing any tension in your body that might be caused by anxious thoughts or emotions.
Breathing exercises are one of the most common relaxations techniques as they are easy to learn as they are relaxing, easy to learn, and form the foundation for more advance relaxation exercises. By focusing on your breath, you may be able to slow down and let go of anxious thoughts. Other popular relaxation techniques that build off of breathing exercises include visualization, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).
Track Your Progress
While learning to cope with your condition, it is not uncommon to fall off track from time-to-time. Monitor your progress by tracking your symptoms, triggers, setbacks, and gains. This can be easily done through the use of a calendar by ranking between 1 and 10 to represent how high your feelings of anxiety were each day. For instance, you may write in a 1 or 2 on days when anxiety is low, between 4 and 6 when it is moderate, and possibly a 9 or 10 on days you are feeling highly anxious.
You may also want to consider using a panic attack diary to track your panic attacks. Mood and anxiety charts can also be used to illustrate how you are feeling across a period of time. Even simply writing in a journal each day can be an easy, yet effective way to track your progress. You can learn a lot about how to cope with your condition through keeping a record of your experience.
Build Social Support
Last but not least, coping with panic disorder can be made less difficult through the support and encouragement of others. Knowing that others are there for you can help you deal with possible setbacks and move forward with managing your condition. You may find support through trusted friends and family members who are there to listen, understand, and empathize with your experiences.
Additionally, you may also find it helpful to discuss your progress with others who share in your diagnosis. There are numerous group therapy, social support groups, and online forums that can help those struggling with panic disorder, panic attacks, and/or agoraphobia. Communicating with others who can relate to your experience can assist you in feeling less lonely and isolated. Such support can also remind you that you are not alone in your struggle to cope with panic disorder.