Anxiety and panic are common problems, and chances are you’ve experienced one or the other at some point in your life. If anxiety and panic seem to be present most of the time, you may have an anxiety disorder that needs to be treated.
For example, if you find that you wake up feeling nervous for “no reason” or if you get so panicky that you can’t function when you feel stressed or threatened, an anxiety disorder may be to blame. An example of this is the irrational fear that may grip you when you think about driving.
The Attack of Panic
A panic attack is a feature of anxiety disorders that comes on suddenly and often feels a lot like a heart attack. You may have a racing or pounding heart and feel dizzy, nauseous or as if you are going to pass out. You may even thinking you are losing your mind or that you’re going to die.
Panic attacks can be frightening. It’s not exactly certain what causes them, but it is probably a combination of genetic traits and environmental triggers coming together for one reason or another that precipitates a panic attack.
What Can You Do About Panic Attacks?
If you have had more than one severe anxiety or panic attack, you will certainly want to know how you can reduce the chances of having another one.
A particular phobia, such as fear of driving, can contribute to the likelihood of having a panic attack, so if you can identify and eliminate the specific fear, you will have taken a giant step toward eliminating panic attacks in general.
Learning and practicing relaxation techniques is also very helpful for people who suffer from anxiety disorders and panic.
Regularly engaging in yoga, meditation and or hypnosis are among the best long-term solutions for anxiety disorders.
You can also find other ways to relax, such as taking a leisurely walk in a scenic location or getting a massage.
Any activity that slows your heart rate and calms your mind can help get your body acclimated to feeling calmer and more peaceful on a regular basis.
Sleep It Off
Another very important remedy for chronic anxiety and panic is getting enough rest. There are many reasons why you may not sleep well or enough, including the very anxiety and worry that you are trying to beat.
But also take a look at your sleep habits to see if you can improve your chances for getting a good night’s sleep. Try to get to bed early enough each night to get at least seven hours of sleep.
Sleep in a comfortable, dark room and don’t eat or drink for at least an hour before turning in, especially if you find that you often get up at night to use the bathroom.
Understand Why You May Be Anxious
In some cases, anxiety disorders have an obvious cause, such as trauma or abuse in childhood. If you’re dealing with a phobia like fear of driving, you may have been in a serious car accident or lost a loved one to a crash.
Addressing with the underlying reasons for your nervousness will help to greatly reduce your tendency to feel anxious or to have panic attacks.
The first thing to recognize if you struggle with a past trauma is that it is not your fault. This is often difficult, but it can be done with patience and time.
You can try to address your issues by reading self help books or, if the issues are more severe, you may need to find a counselor that you can talk to. Look for a counselor that has specific experience with anxiety disorders.
The Chemistry of Anxiety
That jittery, “wired” feeling that lets you know you’re anxious is a chemical reaction in your body. It is often caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
When an imbalance interferes with the way your brain works, the result can be anxiety symptoms or a full blown panic attack. Low blood sugar can also contribute to physical feelings of anxiety.
If you’re prone to anxiety and panic, try eating small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar from dropping too low. Choose high-protein foods or complex carbohydrates and avoid foods that are high in refined (white) flour and sugar, which will send your blood sugar soaring up and then crashing down.
Correcting Chemical Imbalances
A prescription medication or herbal remedy may also help to correct imbalances of brain chemistry. Your doctor can help you decide if a prescription medication is right for you. There are also herbal and nutritional supplements that can help curb anxiety.
For example, the mineral magnesium relaxes muscles, while the B vitamin niacin (B3) can help manage blood sugar swings. You can take supplements of these nutrients or try eating more magnesium and niacin rich foods such as avocados, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and almonds (magnesium) and brown rice, tuna, turkey, and chicken (niacin).
Other B-complex vitamins that help to reduce stress include pantothenic acid (B5) and folic acid. You can increase your intake of pantothenic acid by eating mushrooms, yogurt, avocados, and salmon, while leafy greens are the best source of folic acid.
In addition, calcium, which is found in dairy products, broccoli, kale, and salmon (with bones), helps nerve cells communicate with tense muscle cells in order to relax them.
Anxiety and Fear of Driving
Though a phobia such as fear of driving is a specific form of anxiety, many of the strategies for managing it are the same as those that would be recommended for any form of anxiety.
For much more information about how to overcome fear of driving and the anxiety and panic associated with it, check out the “Driving Fear Program”.