The first time I had a panic attack, I thought I was having a stroke, so I called 911, and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. By the time I got to the emergency room, the paramedics helped me stop hyperventilating, and I felt fine. When the doctor asked me why I was there, I told him that I was sorry, because I was certain that I was having a stroke. “But I guess it was just a nervous breakdown,” I said. The doctor looked thoughtfully at my chart before looking up at me with a big smile, and saying: “Well, the good news is, you can’t have a nervous breakdown. Your nervous system is very important to your health, and if it were to suddenly break down, you would be dead. What you had is called a panic attack.”
I didn’t see the humor in his clever statement at the time, but I understand what he was trying to say now. My condition was not as serious as a nervous breakdown would have been. Even though it felt serious, it was treatable.
What is anxiety
According to my most recent search for a definition, anxiety is a “feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease”. In my own experience with anxiety disorder, it can be much more than that. There are physical stress symptoms that far outweigh any feeling of unease I have ever had before. For the first few years after my diagnosis, I would have panic attacks almost weekly. Anger management was also difficult for me during that time. I tried conventional treatments prescribed by my doctor; however, the pills that were given to me seemed to make matters worse. After trying several different “cocktails” of prescription medications that didn’t work, I decided to try a more natural approach.
Stress and Anger Management
I decided to write up my own treatment plan involving the following areas of my life:
I looked at each of these areas, and figured out ways to effectively retrain my ways of thinking, focus on my physical health, learn effective communication skills, create a relationship with a higher power, and repair my self esteem.
How to Relieve Stress
When it comes to alleviating symptoms of anxiety, I don’t believe there is any one answer that will work for everyone. There are however, some effective tools that were introduced to me by a number a mental health professionals. These tools were also mentioned during my own research on the topic, and I eventually worked most of them into my personal treatment plan. The most common tools are:
- Cognitive Thinking Skills/Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Assertive communication training
- Time management skills
- Diet and exercise
- Relaxation techniques
- Talk therapy
- Spiritual growth
- Connecting with nature
There are several resources online that offer ideas on how to use each of these tools to help alleviate stress. I found the most reliable information on all of these topics came from my counselors and support groups. The library is also full of information on these self help tools, and I would recommend that anyone who can’t seek conventional therapy for their anxiety do as much research as they can.
My panic attacks have now been reduced to one or two a year. After many years of therapy and using my own treatment plan, my diagnosis has been changed to PTSD, and I am much more in control of my symptoms. Now I look back at that day when I thought I was having a stroke, and laugh at what my doctor said. I think I will always be grateful that I didn’t actually have a “nervous breakdown”.