Have you ever found yourself in a small tight space like a storage closet, a closed MRI, or an elevator and out of nowhere you felt like you were going to lose it? Suddenly your breath seems lost, your palms and underarms sweat, your heart races, you feel light-headed and your stomach does flips. The next thing you know, you are looking for a way out and analyzing how fast you can escape. Then you become angry because you have not escaped yet and the desire to run away fast is so overwhelming that you could scream. If so, you might have experienced an anxiety attack.
The problem with anxiety attacks is they happen when you least expect it or worse, when you really don’t have the time to properly deal with it. But it cannot be ignored. If you chose to ignore the anxiety attack and deny its’ existence, it will come back again and again with a vengeance. The best plan for action is to revisit your last attack in your mind and look for the following clues as to the cause.
Check your environment. Many people do not handle small tight spaces well and have a fear that the space is closing in on them. If this sounds like you then analyze the other times when you have experienced an anxiety attack in the past. Is it only in small spaces? Does the size or location of the exit have an effect? Look for patterns in your anxiety as a clue to what maybe causing the anxiety in the first place.
Check your thoughts. Once you have identified a pattern ask yourself, “What was I thinking?” Were you thinking that you could not escape? Were you thinking that the space was getting smaller and smaller? Were you thinking that you could be attacked? Once you know your thoughts and now that you are no longer in that same environment, ask yourself, “How realistic was my fear?” Even mild fears tend to be irrational at times but when mixed with anxiety, they can grow into a larger than life fear that becomes hard to overcome.
Check your emotions. Now that you know your pattern and have identified your thoughts, ask yourself, “How was I feeling?” Your feelings in that moment are likely to be intense. If you experienced anger or a form of it such as frustration, tension, irritation, hurt, hostile or rage then the event most likely triggered something from your past. Ask, “What does this remind me of” to uncover the real anxiety producing event.
Anxiety attacks do not happen in a vacuum, they occur for a reason and sometimes that reason is rational but it manifests itself in irrational ways. By spending some time analyzing you last event, you can prevent future events and learn to keep small spaces equaling small fears.
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