If you’ve ever had a panic attack, you know how scary they can be. In that terrifying moment, you feel like time is freezing and speeding up simultaneously. Your breath gets shallow as you try to catch it. You feel an overwhelming sense of fear, convinced something devastating is going to happen and you need to escape to live. It’s awful, and at times the advice given just passes in one ear and out the other. It’s hard to take advice from someone who hasn’t felt it, because it is truly unlike many other human experiences, and very difficult to escape in the moment. This is why medication is so widely acceptable for panic disorders. Not only is it acceptable, but it has also become the go to without proper attempts at natural and alternative resources.
Xanax, one of the most prescribed pharmaceutical drugs in the country, is primarily prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders. According to drugabuse.gov the number of adults filling a benzodiazepine prescription increased by 67% in the last 8 years, in addition, the average dosage increased as well. It has become the solution for people experiencing any kind of anxiety symptoms, and in it’s rise of popularity, it is also becoming highly abused. It’s unfortunate that most are given these drugs before they are taught any other form of therapy that can, and sometimes easily, rid the body and mind of the symptoms being felt.
As someone with experience, I can firmly say it is possible to manage and overcome panic and anxiety without the use of foreign chemicals entering the body. I was initially terrified of this experience when I first got sober, wondering how I would survive my panic attacks without medication. What I learned along the journey is how easy it becomes to handle these events, in addition to a newfound sense of empowerment and fearlessness to live life. I wish I would’ve have learned this sooner. Here are the steps I take when I experience a panic attack, whether it’s on a flight, stuck in traffic, or just randomly in a group of people.
Look down (only if safe)
I know this seems weird, but trust me, it helps. Stop observing what’s going on around you. It’s often the over-analyzation of the environment that can lead to panic. If you are somewhere that you can’t look down (Like driving) find focus on something singular in front of you. Try to create a sort of tunnel vision for something that appears as secure and steady.
Feel the breath coming in
The feeling of not being able to breath is not real. You are getting enough breath to live and are not going to pass out or die. Tell yourself this, and remind yourself you ARE ok. Feel each breath coming in, reassuring you are breathing properly.
Talk it out
Sometimes we just need to get this out. As we tell someone close by to us what’s happening, often times a lot of people don’t really know how to handle it. And that’s ok. Because the majority will try, and simply having someone there is helpful. The attack will lose power as soon as you begin speaking about it. This is a powerful and trusted technique I always use. Ultimately, this should help you find out why you’re having it, and come to the realization of why you are safe and everything’s ok.
We often try to combat the anxiety before it turns into a panic attack. Then when it hits we continue to try and fight that off. When it doesn’t instantly leave, more panic, and the feeling of being stuck in this ensues. Accepting what’s going on around us and not thinking of ways you want it changed is a key first step in preventing anxiety and panic. Once the panic is there, it’s ok. Accept it, and let it calm down.
Know it will pass!
This is probably my number one thought during my panic attacks. This will pass. It often feels like a lifetime, but usually within 30 seconds I’m back to normal. Similar with the previous step, accept that you’re in an attack, and know you won’t be hurt by the time this passes. It will pass very fast. Just know that, and hold on. It’s amazing how calming the feeling is once it dies down. That serene feeling of calm and equanimity is something to keep in mind as this passes. I look forward to that aftershock of bliss.
Recovery from addiction requires abstinence from drugs and alcohol, including prescriptions of the mind and mood altering substances such as xanax and other benzodiazepines. There are alternatives to manage panic attacks. At times it feels like these will never go away, and in some cases you might have to be prepared to deal with them for life. But knowing that the are manageable, and you are powerful enough to get out, will help you live your life without fear. If all else fails, contact a psychiatrist and that’s willing to help you find alternative solutions. Live free and remember, you are empowered, and you can overcome these moments. If you have any ideas and techniques that you use, please leave a comment below for all of us to try out!
At Tree House Recovery, we know that you are capable of change. You can build a better life, and we can help. Visit us online or call us at (855) 202-2138. Visit us here for information on heroin addiction treatment.