At times it’s hard to tell the difference between nervous breakdown and panic attack. Both can mimic each other and, to make things even more complicated, you can have both simultaneously. Both conditions are only temporary, although panic attacks are usually recurrent and, unlike, nervous breakdown, come and go in short episodes. Let’s look at these conditions a little closer.
Help! I have a nervous breakdown.
Nervous breakdown, also known as mental breakdown, can be caused by severe and prolonged stress, especially if you are that kind of person who keeps emotions to himself, thinking you can manage on your own. Burnout, chronic overworking, caring for someone with long-term illness will often trigger the problem. At times, it can be due to accumulation of many little stresses and chronic unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
The symptoms include:
- severe depression,
- avoiding others,
- dissociation from your environment,
- irregular heartbeat,
- tensed muscles,
You can have all or only some of the symptoms above.
What is panic attack?
This condition may manifest as acute fear for no reason at all. Some people tend to get its symptoms only in certain circumstances, such as being in a closed space (tunnels, elevators, caves) or in presence of certain animals with snakes, spiders and rats being the most common triggers. Because panic attacks are repetitive in their nature, expectation and fear of having yet another bout of illness will make you feel even worse.
While this disorder is a serious matter and should be addressed with proper treatment, it is not immediately organ-threatening and you should always remember that you can improve and ultimately heal.
The signs and symptoms include following:
- the feeling that something terrible is about to happen although rationally you cannot point out any valid reason why you are feeling so,
- fear of losing control and embarrassing yourself,
- desire to escape,
- racing heartbeat,
- chest pain,
- trembling and shaking.
According to statistics, as many as 20 percent of Americans have this condition at some point of their lives. While there is nothing comforting about this number, it still helps to know you are not alone. Worrying about panic attacks will make things only worse, but putting things into perspective and challenging your fears will help you heal faster.
How to deal with mental breakdown or/and panic attacks
If you suspect you are having either of these two disorders, you should consult a qualified health professional. In addition, you can make some lifestyle changes and develop new habits that will not only help you get better, but will also prevent similar episodes in the future. Here is what you could do to help yourself:
- Get a massage. Professional massage is the best massage. Alternatively you can ask a friend or family member to give you a back rub.
- Journaling. Something amazing happens when you put your fears on paper. It’s like you take off the weight of the scary thoughts and doubts and now can relax. It’s hard to describe all the benefits of writing a journal or a diary, you just should try.
- Exercising. Cardio exercise performed in groups is best. Popular programs such as Body Combat, Tae Bo, Zumba are good examples. You will feel stronger and happier.
- Listen to self-hypnosis relaxation audios.
- Talk with a therapist. There are therapists who are specifically trained to help people who experience anxiety and panic episodes. They can listen to your concerns and teach you coping skills, which will not only prepare you for next episode, but hopefully help reduce the frequency of episodes altogether.
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