Category: panic attacks

Social anxiety


 

Also known as social phobia or fear of social situations. It often starts when a person is in their teens but it can last into adulthood and it can severely affect your ability to cope with social situations. Social anxiety is fear that can wear away your confidence and cause distressing symptoms which can undermine your ability to function at home, school or at work. It can cause an intense dread of everyday social situations, of doing things in front of people and it can limit your ability to engage in activities such as meeting friends, initiating conversations, walking into rooms where there are people, attending parties, engaging in phone conversations and social outings. It can result in staying away from places where there are people which can lead to withdrawal and isolation.

There are various symptoms, such as thinking that people are judging or watching you, or a fear that you will embarrass yourself or that you are not socially capable or competent. Consequently, one’s sense of self-esteem is lowered, confidence is adversely affected causing shyness, leading to avoidance of eye contact and social withdrawal. It may become very difficult to make and keep friends. As a result, you may also experience palpitations, along with a feeling of sickness, sweating and panic attacks. Two young people, Khalid and Laura, who have suffered from this form of anxiety, share their experiences in this short video. (courtesy of Voice Box, Childline’s weekly video chat)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqDX9rntbQs

Social anxiety can be treated with counselling and psychotherapy, such as talking therapy. If you experience social anxiety, the following organisations can offer further advice and information :-

Social Anxiety UK

Anxiety UK

Young Minds

Anxiety Alliance

Mind

 

How to deal with panic attacks

A panic attack can be caused by anxiety and stress or by an underlying physical condition. Although not life threatening, panic attacks can be scary and distressing because of intense feelings of dread and irrational fears. Attacks tends to come in waves, varying in intensity and peaking for approximately 10 minutes. The attacks can last for minutes up to a couple of hours and their underlying causes are not always easy to identify. Certain situations, circumstances and certain activities can act as triggers, however in certain circumstances panic attacks can occur randomly. Physical symptoms often accompany panic attacks in the form of palpitations, sweating, shaking or trembling and breathlessness or hyperventilation. These symptoms are the result of adrenaline being released into the bloodstream, which prepares the body for defensive responses as it enters a state of heightened arousal. If our nervous system is unable to stabilise to a calmer state, it can cause an over-exaggeration of threat causing increased anxiety and panic.

There are strategies you can adopt to cope with panic. Firstly, face up to the fear of panic so that it does not control you. Ride out the attack and remain in the situation until the panic subsides. By so doing, you will allow yourself the opportunity to learn that nothing is going to happen. When the panic subsides, continue with what you were doing before the attack. It is helpful to have someone with you who can offer you reassurance that the sensation will pass and you should try not to worry.

Control your breathing

Avoid the urge to take short, shallow breaths. Take longer slow, deeper, gentle breaths. Breathe in through your nose, counting from 1 to 5 then breathe out slowly, deeply, gently through your mouth counting 1 to 5. Do not hold your breath but try to continue breathing in a much slower way. Don’t worry about feeling yourself wanting to yawn but are unable to. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Practice breathing each day to prevent panic. Also view our blog on diaphragmatic breathing.

Eat a healthy diet

Regular healthy meals regulate blood sugars. Be aware that caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and drugs can exacerbate panic and anxiety.

Take regular exercise

Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, helps to alleviate stress and anxiety and release tension. It boosts confidence and can lift mood.

Seek professional support

A trained therapist or counsellor can offer you professional advice and support for anxiety and panic attacks. A short course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you to find strategies to cope with negative thoughts that accompany panic attacks.

For further information contact Revive Counselling and Therapy.

Email: sue@revivecounsellingandtherapy.com

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