Dr. Maria D. Reyes
Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health concern in the United States, affecting over forty million adults. Although there are many different types of anxiety disorders, they are all commonly characterized by persistent, strong feelings of worry or fear surrounding a circumstance that is not life-threatening.
If you or someone you know struggles with anxiety, then you may be familiar with some of the typical symptoms. Emotionally, symptoms of anxiety or anxiety disorders may include the following:
- Feeling overwhelmingly nervous or tense
- Feeling a sense of impending doom or danger
- The urge to avoid and hide from things that trigger anxiety
Not only does anxiety manifest itself emotionally, but it can also manifest itself physically. This could look like trouble concentrating or difficulty sleeping. On a more extreme level, anxiety has the power to induce what is commonly known as a panic attack.
In this article, we are going to discuss what a panic attack is, some of its primary causes and, risk factors, what the Bible has to say about anxiety, and different types of panic attack treatment.
Have you ever been going about your normal day, when suddenly, your heart rate spikes, your breathing becomes labored, and you begin to sweat and tremble? Out of nowhere, has your chest ever tightened until you felt dizzy and breathless while your fingers or toes go numb and tingly?
If you can answer yes to any of the above questions, then you have most likely experienced what is called a panic attack. Panic attacks, if left untreated, can be very disruptive to your life. They can leave you feeling alone, helpless, and emotionally and physically drained.
Let’s look at some of the common causes and risk factors for panic attacks so you can move forward in determining the best panic attack treatment or prevention for you.
Typically, panic attacks occur when triggered by a stressful situation. Normally, however, they come on suddenly, and can happen anywhere and at any time. According to the Mayo Clinic, panic attacks can be a result of the following factors,
- Intense or major stress
- Changes in brain function
- Those who have a more sensitive temperament or emotional response to stress
- Those who are prone to negative emotions
Panic attacks can happen at any time in your life, but symptoms typically begin to manifest themselves in late teens or early adulthood and are shown to affect more women than men. Different factors can increase your risk of developing panic attacks which may include,
- Family history
- Major life stress such as the death of a loved one
- Traumatic events such as sexual assault or a severe accident
- Excessive caffeine or nicotine intake
- Sudden or severe changes in your life
What The Bible Says About Anxiety
God created us to feel joy, anger, sadness, excitement, and even fear. We are created in such a way that we can feel a healthy amount of fear to protect ourselves from danger. For example, we wouldn’t willingly walk across a busy highway in the dead of night for fear of getting hit by a car. Fear can keep us safe and prevent injury.
It’s ok to allow ourselves to feel afraid, but when we allow our fear and worry to consume our thoughts and actions, it can lead to anxiety disorders and panic attacks, requiring treatment.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6
The Bible instructs us not to be anxious about anything but to take our burdens and give them to God. In all circumstances, we are called to pray and give praise and thanks to combat the worry that threatens to overcome us. It’s reassuring to know that we have a God who can help us in our anxiety so that we never carry anything alone.
Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away inbarns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? – Matthew 26:25-27
Sometimes, anxiety can stem from a sense of lack or fear that we won’t have enough to sustain ourselves. But we must remember that God promises that He will be faithful in providing everything that we need. We serve a God who cares and provides for us, and we can take great comfort in this truth.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10
We are not to fear because God is always with us. Even though we might feel utterly and completely alone, we never truly are. God is ever-present, meaning He knows everything we face and feel. Not only does He promise to be with us, but He promises to strengthen us and help us with the circumstances we stand against.
This truth, that God promises to be with us and help us, is something we can rest on when our minds start to wander towards worry.
Not only can untreated anxiety lead to reoccurring panic attacks, but several other things that can negatively impact you physically and emotionally. Anxiety undealt with can lead to depression, substance abuse, and even suicide.
Undiagnosed anxiety disorders can also cause chronic stress which depletes the immune system. When your immune system is compromised, in a constant state of stress, and not working properly, it leaves your body constantly vulnerable to an onslaught of illnesses.
If you’re feeling trapped by the weight of anxiety and helpless in your battle against panic attacks, take heart, because there is hope. Let’s look at a few different panic attack treatment options that just might be right for you.
Panic Attack Treatment Options
If you find that your life has been negatively affected by reoccurring bouts of anxiety that lead to panic attacks, it may be time to seek panic attack treatment options. Let’s look at some of the most effective ways to treat and manage your panic attacks.
Stress is a major trigger for those who battle anxiety and panic attacks. And when you aren’t giving your body and mind what it needs to function at a healthy level, this can create an imbalance which can lead to stress. Here are a few lifestyle changes that can reduce stress and improve your overall sense of wellbeing:
- Yoga or deep breathing
- Reduce intake of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages
- Reduce nicotine intake
- Adequate amount of sleep
- Join a support group
Depending on how severe your anxiety and panic attacks are, a doctor or psychiatrist may recommend medication as the best form of treatment. Some of the most common types of medications that doctors may prescribe include Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), or Benzodiazepines.
Just like with any new medication, you may experience certain side effects and it may take a while to find the right medication for you. Make sure to be open and honest with your doctor about any concerns or questions you may have.
A form of counseling that has proven to significantly help those who suffer from panic attacks is called psychotherapy. Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy helps to resolve or manage debilitating, mental health-related symptoms to improve overall function and well-being. A form of psychotherapy, called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can help you remember in the moment that your panic attack symptoms are not life-threatening.
Having a trained mental health professional provide you with practical tools for healing and restoration is a wonderful way to seek treatment for your anxiety-induced panic attacks. Here at Seattle Christian Counseling, we want to provide you with the best form of treatment specific to your situation.
If you are interested in speaking to a counselor who can provide you with a biblical worldview, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the counselors in our online directory.
“Rage”, Courtesy of Usman Yousaf, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Fear Not”, Courtesy of James Coleman, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Panic”, Courtesy of Andrey Metelev, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pause. Breathe. Ponder. Choose. Do.”, Courtesy of Brett Jordan, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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