Panic attacks and anxiety disorders are often co-occurring issues to substance use disorders. It is essential to understand how your mental health intertwines with substance use and why managing concerns like panic attacks can help. An excellent place to start is by learning how to avoid panic attack triggers. For more information, please contact Foothills at Red Oak Recovery at 866.300.5275.
What Is a Panic Attack?
A panic attack is a sudden and intense fear that causes physical and sometimes immobilizing symptoms such as:
- Rapid heart rate
- Hot flashes
You may feel a sense of impending doom or danger.
What Causes Panic Attacks?
It is not clear why some people get panic attacks. It may be something that runs in their family or relates to chronic stress or negative emotions. For some, the answer might lie in brain chemistry.
There are risk factors for panic disorders like a traumatic event, such as sexual assault. The trauma could even be something from childhood that resurfaces.
Although we may not understand the cause of panic disorder well, clearly, there are triggers for panic attacks. A crucial part of managing the condition is to identify and avoid these triggers.
How Do You Identify Triggers for Panic Attacks?
One of the best ways is to keep a journal to record what you might have led to the panic attack. As soon as you can after the attack, write what you were doing and thinking before. Also, make a note of any suspicions you might have about triggers or things your family might point out. That will help you identify patterns that may lead you to specific triggers.
You should also work with a therapist, especially if your panic is disabling or an underlying cause of alcohol or drug abuse. A mental health specialist can work with you to pinpoint triggers.
What Is the Connection Between Panic Attacks and Substance Use Disorders?
There are two connections between panic attacks and substance abuse. Some people use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate. They may hope the substances help them avoid the panic or control one that once it starts.
The other connection is alcohol and drug use, which can be a trigger for an attack. They may also be a risk factor for relapse unless you get treatment for both the substance use and the panic disorder at the same time.
How To Avoid Triggers?
Once you understand your triggers, the next step is to avoid them. When possible, stay out of situations that may trigger an attack. For example, if clowns are your trigger, don’t go places where you’ll find them. They will be likely to be like the circus. If you are going places like a child’s birthday party or even the fair, find out ahead of time if there will be clowns so that you can do something else that day.
It might not be that easy to avoid triggers, though. When it is not, then you must stave off the attack.
Deep breathing exercises are a common approach. The goal is to refocus your attention away from the trigger. When you do deep breathing exercises, you focus on your breath.
You might also trace the root of the trigger. What is it about that trigger that makes you panic? By better understanding the trigger, you might diffuse it. That is where therapy can help.
Get Treatment at Foothills at Red Oak Recovery
Foothills at Red Oak Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment program for adolescent males. Part of the services we offer is helping teenage boys with co-occurring issues like panic disorders.
Services at Foothills at Red Oak Recovery include: