Anxiety & Panic

Anxiety is a common, normal reaction to stressful and uncertain situations. When anxiety is persistent, excessive, unrealistic, and impacts our functioning, it may be due to an anxiety disorder.

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  • Symptoms of Anxiety

    Symptoms may be cognitive, emotional, and/or physical. They may include:

    • Feeling nervous or on-edge
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Having trouble sleeping
    • Gastrointestinal problems
    • Having an increased heart rate
    • Sweating or trembling
    • Feeling irritable
    • Having a sense of impending danger or panic
  • Anxiety: Did you know?
    • Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness in the US, affecting approximately 40 million adults every year.
    • Anxiety may be generalized or about specific things (i.e. test anxiety, social anxiety, specific phobias, etc.).
    • Anxiety can result from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
    • Anxiety disorders are considered highly treatable with counseling and/or medication
  • Tips for Managing Anxiety
    • Practice accepting the things you cannot control, and replacing negative thoughts with more realistic ones.
    • take deep breaths. This can help calm the nervous system when it goes into “fight or flight” mode, our body’s common response to fear. Recognize that these feelings are temporary.
    • Try not to rely on avoidance to cope. Often, what we are trying hardest to avoid will only continue to bother us. If we are willing to experience some temporary discomfort to face our fears, we often find our anxiety will dissipate.
    • Take care of your body: limit caffeine and alcohol. Get plenty of sleep. Eat well-balanced meals. Exercise regularly – it really can help!
  • What is a Panic Attack?

    A brief but intense period of overwhelming fear or anxiety. It can include physical symptoms that can cause people to fear they are having a heart attack, cannot breathe, or are dying.

  • Symptoms of a Panic Attack
    • Chest pain or discomfort
    • Racing heart
    • Sweating
    • Shaking or trembling
    • Fear of “going crazy”
    • Breathing difficulties
    • Nausea
    • Feeling dizzy or faint
    • Numbness or tingling sensations
    • Fear of dying
  • Panic Attacks: Did you know?
    • Panic attacks may feel scary and uncomfortable, but they do not cause physical harm. The most common fears (having a heart attack or dying) are not actual threats.
    • They may seem to occur randomly, or they may be linked to a specific source of anxiety.
    • They are usually intense but brief. Symptoms typically peak within 10-30 minutes, though some may linger over an hour.
    • Panic disorder (PD) can occur when a person has frequent attacks, experiences great worry or fear of future attacks, and changes their behavior in order to avoid having them.
    • PD affects 2.7% of the US population. Women are twice as likely to experience it as men.
    • PD is highly treatable with a variety of available therapies.
  • I think I’m having a panic attack, what should I do?
    • Practice deep, abdominal breathing while you allow symptoms to pass. Breathe in for several counts and out for several counts. An app such as Calm can guide you.
    • Use positive coping statements. Some examples: "This feeling isn’t pleasant, but I know it’s temporary." "I’ll just let my body do its thing. I can take the time I need in order to let go and relax."
    • Ground yourself in the present moment by using all of your senses: Take note of things you can see, hear, or touch. Chew peppermint gum, take a drink of cool water, or sniff some lavender essential oil. Talk to a supportive person.
    • If you experience persistent panic attacks and are interested in learning ways to manage, consider CAPS Managing Anxiety Program to learn strategies!
    • *If you have never had a panic attack and are not sure what you are experiencing, seek medical attention to rule out a medical cause.
  • Books

    Some books may be available through Boatwright and others are linked to Amazon but please choose whatever book store you would like to support!

  • Campus and CAPS Resources

    Some resources adapted from Appalachian State University Counseling Center