Managing Panic Disorder and Sobriety at the Same Time

Managing Panic Disorder and Sobriety at the Same Time | Transcend Recovery Community

One of the most challenging experiences of panic disorder is the fear of a panic attack coming on randomly. Anxiety continues to grow knowing that a panic attack can happen anytime.

Panic disorder includes the consistent experience of attacks as well as a persistent concern about having additional attacks. Typically, those with this disorder are extremely anxious and fearful, primarily because of the inability to predict when the next attack will occur. Attacks are often accompanied by a feeling of being out of control and include uncomfortable physical sensations, such as a pounding heart, sweating, weakness, dizziness, and numbness. An intense worry about the next attack is a common symptom that makes panic disorder difficult to manage.

Panic attacks might seem unbearable for those who are also recovering addicts. In fact, for many people who once struggled with an addiction, there’s a strong possibility that drugs and alcohol were used as a means to cope with the illness. However, anyone facing both recovery and mental illness should know that panic disorder is manageable with enough support.

In fact, it might seem incredibly unbearable right in the middle of having an attack. However, even here, with enough practice, experiencing panic can be managed right in the moment. Another challenging experience of panic disorder is the period leading up to an attack. Again, this is actually an opportunistic time of using specific coping tools in order to prevent a full attack from coming on.  The two primary ways of managing panic disorder include:

  1. Have a toolbox of coping tools. The best coping tools for panic disorder, or any anxiety disorder, are relaxation techniques. These include meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and changing thoughts. When someone feels an attack coming on, he or she can begin to take long, slow, and deep breaths. Inhale and exhale to the count of four seconds. This extended breathing does two things. It relaxes the body and it directs your attention on your body and instead of the thoughts in your mind that will likely only exacerbate the attack. Meditation and yoga can be used as ongoing practices so that a state of relaxation is consistent and familiar. Lastly, use a prayer, mantra, or even the alphabet to manage an attack when you feel it coming on. The point here is that you want to change your thinking. Commonly, it is a thought or a thinking pattern that began the attack in the first place.
  1. Get to know the circumstances in which the panic attacks develop. Although it might be challenging, someone might be able to identify signs indicating when an attack is imminent. Therapists, friends, and family can assist with this process. Someone with panic attacks could become familiar with the thoughts, circumstances, and events that are taking place when an attack feels imminent. Knowing this can prepare them so that they can begin to use coping tools to make the attack less severe, or even prevent it from coming on. Often, it is something in the surroundings that may be causing an anxiety attack, such as a person, a noise, or a place. Eliminate the anxiety trigger as best you can. You can do this between attacks by trying to identify what your triggers are.

These are meant to be helpful suggestions for anyone with a panic disorder. Instead of drinking or using drugs, you might consider the above tips when faced with such anxiety.


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