MILLI | What a panic attack feels like

Panic attacks can affect people in different ways. Milli takes us through what a panic attack felt like for her, why she started having them, and how she got support.

Growing up in New Zealand, it was always Milli’s dream to live abroad. However, when she finally got to London, things didn’t pan out how she expected. She struggled to find work and was left feeling embarrassed and stressed about her finances. When she started experiencing panic attacks, she knew she had to seek help. After her diagnosis of anxiety, depression, panic disorder and health anxiety, Milli found strategies to help her move forward and support her mental health.

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About Beyond Blue
Established in October 2000, Beyond Blue initially focused on raising awareness of depression and reducing the associated stigma. As our knowledge and impact on people’s lives broadened, through research and community engagement, we added the key issue of anxiety conditions in 2011 and, more recently, suicide prevention to our core purpose.

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Treatment For Anxiety Disorders – Types of Psychotherapy For Anxiety

Treatment for anxiety begins with a comprehensive medical history and physical examination. While lab tests cannot diagnose anxiety disorders, they can rule out physical causes. The healthcare provider will also ask about the intensity of symptoms and how much they affect daily life. If these measures do not relieve symptoms, the healthcare provider may refer the patient to a mental health professional for a more specialized assessment. Ultimately, a physician will diagnose the condition based on the symptoms, history, and physical examination.

Treatment for anxiety disorders may vary widely and is based on the individual’s needs and circumstances. Although it is considered a normal response to stressful situations, some individuals experience excessive anxiety. Anxiety can cause physical illness and keep a person awake at night. For people with an anxiety disorder, however, this feeling can become a debilitating condition that interferes with daily activities. The symptoms of anxiety disorders may be triggered by challenging life events or by an external event.

Medications for anxiety include benzodiazepines, a class of drugs known as tranquilizers. Benzodiazepines can reduce symptoms quickly and bring relief in 30 minutes to an hour. Although they are often prescribed for panic attacks and other overpowering episodes of anxiety, they are physically addictive and are therefore not recommended for long-term treatment. To get more information about medications for anxiety, sign up for a free Mayo Clinic newsletter.

For people with a history of anxiety disorders, psychotherapy can help treat the condition. During this session, patients are taught specific techniques to cope with their anxieties and slowly return to normal activities. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to help the individual develop the confidence to manage their symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy also involves exposure therapy, which involves gradually exposing oneself to situations that may trigger anxiety. When used in combination with other treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy can be highly effective in reducing anxiety symptoms.

In addition to CBT, patients may opt for applied relaxation therapy (ART). ART focuses on relaxing the muscles in a specific way during an anxiety-provoking situation. This approach may take several sessions to show results, but it is still a viable option for treating anxiety. So, when you are looking for a therapist, consider all of the above options. There are many types of psychotherapy for anxiety, so it is best to select the one that is right for you.

Anxiety medicines may be prescribed by your health care provider. While benzodiazepines may reduce symptoms in the short term, they may have negative side effects, especially when used long-term. If co-occurring depression is an issue, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant to treat anxiety. Antidepressants are not the best option for treating anxiety, but they may help you manage your symptoms more effectively. Some people will need to try several types of medications before finding the right one.

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