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"I am a 23-year-old who has been struggling with panic attacks since I was a teenager. I tend to not take situations that are hard on me or upset me very well, and I get easily overwhelmed. I can’t help tearing up and start breathing heavily until I feel dizzy. Sometimes I have very dark thoughts about myself, which I know are wrong but I can’t help myself. Other times, I feel claustrophobic and hyperventilate. I want to take control of my emotions and not be overwhelmed all the time. What should I do?" -A panicky soul
Answer by Dr Rishav Koirala, Psychiatrist at Grande Hospital
What you’re going through points towards the problem of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Its common symptoms are the low capacity to handle the stress of daily activities, high emotional sensitivity, anxiety over brooding, negative thoughts, restlessness, low concentration, emotional sensitivity, low confidence, tremors, palpitations, disturbed sleep, and shortness of breath. If many symptoms match, there is the possibility of having GAD. When a person constantly lives in anxiety, it is common to have panic attacks.
It is advised that you should visit a psychiatrist, any that you trust, and they can help you evaluate what problems you’re going through and find a solution for you accordingly. Meeting a psychiatrist doesn’t mean starting medicine! As you have a long history of suffering, it is necessary to consult a psychiatrist.
On a personal level, there are a lot of non-pharmacological ways to deal with anxiety, starting with your diet. For instance, avoid things like coffee or alcohal as they can increase anxiety,
Similarly, taking some time to calm yourself and deal with the emotions you are trying to control can also help by meditating. There are tons of guided meditation tutorials you can find on YouTube. Try exploring and following one that resonates with you. Take 20 minutes out of your daily life for mediation.
Physical exercise can also help. Maybe you can set aside 30 minutes a day to follow a small at-home workout routine (aerobics or cardio) or go running every morning or evening. You can even do stretching or try Yoga. These physical activities can do wonders.
Since you struggle emotionally, observing your feelings is also necessary. Ask yourself: Why is this making me cry? Why am I overreacting? It can help you understand your situation better and to figure out how you can deal with it logically.
Keeping your struggles to yourself can be harmful and can have long-term consequences. So, sharing with someone you're comfortable with can help you emotionally. You can also visit a therapist to help you understand your feelings and your emotional reactions to events.
And in the end, I would like to assure you that there is a solution to the suffering that you have been experiencing for long.