Wednesday, September 24, 2008

WFMW: Coping with Anxiety Attacks

Every Wednesday, Shannon over at Rocks in my Dryer hosts a tip carnival called Works-For-Me Wednesday. Bloggers from around the world join in and share all kinds of advice about all kinds of things.

About six years ago, I started suffering from anxiety attacks. I was in vet school at the time, under a lot of stress, working too hard and sleeping too little. Some days were fueled purely with adrenaline, peanut M&Ms, and my morning SlimFast. (By the way - it's hard to work an 18 hour day on one can of SlimFast and one packet of peanut M&Ms.)

At first, I wasn't sure what was happening to me. I'd be going along, taking care of business, and suddenly something would come over me. I'd feel flushed, dizzy, shaky, and weak, with an overwhelming feeling of needing to GET OUT. The anxiety usually wasn't about anything specific, but was in reaction to stressful circumstances.

After I was able to identify what I was feeling as an anxiety attack, things became more clear. Several things have helped me over the years, including medication. Since we're still trying to get pregnant, medication is off my list of options right now. I thought I'd share my non-medical coping strategy.

1. Prayer. Pray for peace, for comfort, and for a clear mind. Pray alone. Pray with your spouse. Pray with your best friend. Just pray.

2. Quiet place, deep breaths. Seriously. It sounds simple, but it's the easiest way to calm down when in the throes of an anxiety attack. It's good for your body physically, and it helps to clear your mind as well.

3. Try to find the source of the anxiety. Sometimes this is confusing, since once you get to a certain stress level anything can trigger the symptoms. Evaluate the stresses and conflicts in your life to see where the problems originate.

4. Deal with the anxiety, instead of shuffling it aside. This has really been key for me. My gut reaction, in times of anxiety, is to push it to the back of my mind and just move on. That's fine for a short time, but it won't help solve anything in the long run. Instead, take some quiet time to focus on your anxiety. What is it that is really bothering you? What about the situation is scary? What factors do you feel might get out of control? Once you've identified the source of the fear, you can figure out how to deal with it. If the worst happens, what will you do? What will be the most likely result?

5. Medication. If anxiety is overwhelming you, if you're having trouble coping, or if it interferes with your career or your family life, seek help. There are some great anti-anxiety medications out there that can really help get you over a time of stress. Anxiety is a physical reaction, and dealing with it in a physical way is sometimes the most effective.

I hope this helps someone out there. I hope that if you're suffering from anxiety attacks, you find coping mechanisms that work for you. And if you need someone to talk to, e-mail me!

For more great tips, visit Works-For-Me Wednesday at Rocks in my Dryer!


Anonymous said...

Some great tips. I first started struggling with the same things about 2.5 years ago. I did a combination of counseling/medication. After two years of Lexapro and really praying about my struggles, I'm med-free, and the Lord has taken away almost all of the anxiety. Hallelujah!

Chelsey @ Brown Eyed Basics

I've written some about it at my personal blog "only help my unbelief" -

Heather @ Not a DIY Life said...

I started having anxiety attacks when I was in grad school too (10+ years ago). There have been times when they've bad, other times when they're non-existent.

Now, if I feel one coming on, I pray a "breath prayer." It's just a simple sentence prayer that can be said in one breath. It helps me to center myself on God, plus helps keep my breathing from getting erratic. (Usually I pray "Peace, be still.")

Memarie Lane said...

For me, attempting to deal with the anxiety head on actually worsened the attacks. I developed some mental exercises to help my remove myself from it. It's been about two years now since I've had an attack.

THE ROOST said...

Great tips! Thanks for sharing your heart!

Elizabeth said...

Great post! It took me about 10 years of off/on counseling to agree to try medication for my anxiety attacks. Now I can't imagine life without those little pills! I also learned about self accu-pressure (not puncture!) which is a great technique. Inspired by you, I may post about this in the future. The more people who talk about mental health issues, the more that seek help, I think!

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