The National Mental Health Hotline is here for you if you are struggling with anxiety, fear or full-blown panic attack. We will not dismiss your situation, and our compassionate staff will assist you. Feel free to call 866-903-3787 at any time of the day or night.
Panic attacks are a real condition. Unfortunately, until recently, they were often dismissed, and it was difficult for sufferers to find the help they need. People dealing with this condition would typically cope by avoiding activities, situations and even loved ones to prevent triggers or embarrassment. Yet by doing so, they also avoided the very things that make life worthwhile. While panic attacks are debilitating, unnerving and frightening, please be aware that help is available. You don’t have to go through this alone. You can reach out for help.
Understand that the operators at The National Mental Health Hotline will connect you to resources to help you understand and effectively manage your panic attacks. When you call our hotline, we can discuss your symptoms and provide potential treatment options that will help you mitigate your condition.
What Is a Panic Attack?
A panic attack is typically an episode of absolute terror. A person feels such intense fear or anxiety that they cannot function. The feelings are accompanied by physical effects that can be debilitating. People who experience these have said it felt like a heart attack. Symptoms can be very severe and feel life-threatening. They include:
• Feelings of intense fear
• Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
• Feeling as though you’re choking
• Chest pain
• Rapid heartbeat as well as heart palpitations
• Trembling or shaking
• A feeling of impending doom
• After effects that make it hard to sleep
Panic attacks have long-lasting effects that continue even after the attack itself seems to be over. Because of this, a person who has experienced a panic attack may be debilitated or suffer continuing problems even when he or she doesn’t seem to have any more symptoms. For example, sleeplessness may occur as the person replays the episode over and over in their head.
Other health disorders often accompany panic attacks. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders and other issues are often part of the picture. Substance abuse may often be a byproduct of these conditions as people will self-medicate to numb or alleviate their pain.
All of these situations require sympathetic and competent help. If you or someone you love has a panic attack, dial 866-903-3787 to speak with someone who can help you. If they are in immediate danger, call 911.
What Happens When I Call a Panic Attack Hotline?
First of all, be assured that your initial call will not cost you anything. Also, be assured that your privacy will be protected. All calls and conversations are completely confidential. You don’t need to hesitate to call for fear that you can’t pay the bill or that your friends and coworkers will find out about your condition.
Additionally, don’t hesitate to call if you are unsure whether what you are experiencing is actually a panic attack. Our staff will treat you with sympathy and without judgment. They can reassure you if you are not in the throes of a panic attack, and they can guide you if you are. Our goal is to provide you with the immediate help you need and to point you toward long-term solutions by providing you with information about available resources.
Panic hotlines are not just for those going through an attack. If you are calling on behalf of a friend or loved one, we can help you with that as well. Ask questions, gather information and find out about options for support and assistance. Know that if you are calling for someone you love, you are not alone. Often, it is a worried friend or family member who can help someone get the treatment they need.
What Can a Panic Attack Hotline Offer?
As you can see, a panic hotline is not just for connecting you up to a sympathetic ear, although that is one of its functions. The National Mental Health Hotline can provide you with:
• Information about the symptoms and causes of panic attacks
• A source of confidential and anonymous immediate help
• Assistance in locating a counselor, therapist, treatment center or another source of ongoing care
• Guidance on how to help prevent or treat panic attacks
• The tools you need to help a loved one who is experiencing panic attacks
The Connection Between Addiction and Anxiety
Substance abuse often accompanies anxiety disorders such as panic attacks. Drugs or alcohol are common coping mechanisms or escape strategies. A person who self-medicates in this manner can become addicted. When that happens, he or she is considered to have a dual diagnosis.
Dual diagnosis can complicate treatment. Fortunately, The National Mental Health Hotline can supply information about facilities near you that treat multiple conditions at once. The focus is on treating not just an addiction but also the underlying factors that cause or contribute to that addiction.
When I Call 866-903-3787, What Should I Say?
The best thing to do when you call is to be honest. Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at one point or another, so these feelings are not anything to be ashamed of. However, a panic disorder is different from the normal range of emotions that most people experience.
The staff at The National Mental Health Hotline can help you figure out if you are simply experiencing acute, but normal, emotions or if you are having a panic attack or other type of anxiety disorder. They will ask you questions in a compassionate way to help you figure out what is going on.
In turn, you will be encouraged to ask questions yourself. After all, the scariest thing about a medical condition is often not knowing the facts. As you learn more about what is going on, you will feel better able to cope.
Some types of questions you may want to ask include the following:
• How do I know if I’m having a panic attack or just feeling normal anxiety?
• What are the causes of a panic attack?
• Can I prevent panic attacks?
• What are treatment options? Do they include medication?
• What happens if I’m also dealing with addiction?
• Are there special treatment options available to me?
• Will I ever get through this and be able to have a normal life again?
• What step should I take next?
These questions are similar to the ones you should ask if you are calling on behalf of a loved one. If you’ve watched a friend or family member become paralyzed with fear and have trouble breathing due to anxiety, you know how helpless and frightened that can make you feel. Maybe you’ve had to go with them to the hospital or watch as they use drugs or alcohol to cope with their severe anxiety or depression.
In this case, you might want to ask the following types of questions when you call the panic attack hotline:
• How can I tell if it’s really a panic attack?
• What can I do to help a loved one if it is?
• What resources can I share with them?
• Is there a safe way to broach the subject of getting help?
• How can I provide the support they need while they get treatment?
• Will I ever have my loved one back the way they used to be?
What Is a Panic Disorder?
When someone frequently has panic attacks, they are considered to have a panic disorder. For no apparent reason, they will feel the terror of a full-blown panic attack along with accompanying physical symptoms.
More commonly experienced by women (but men and teens can also have these episodes), , panic attacks often start to occur when someone reaches young adulthood, but they can also occur during a stressful period later in life. Over time, recurring panic attacks can lead to a full-blown panic disorder.
What differentiates these panic attacks is that they seem to occur without an appropriate reason. After all, it is normal for people to experience intense fear during a crisis, such as when a loved one is taken to the emergency room or when a natural disaster occurs. The strong emotions are actually a survival mechanism in these situations. However, for someone with a panic disorder, there often are no such clear-cut reasons for their panic attacks.
Instead, the person will repeatedly experience the intense fear of a panic attack along with its physical symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pains and sweating. He or she will feel out of control during these attacks and will also face constant worry anticipating when the next attack will occur. He or she might start to avoid people or places that he or she thinks might trigger such an attack. Life for someone dealing with a panic disorder often feels like a prison as the person constrains themselves from life in order to avoid a panic attack.
A dual diagnosis is quite common for people suffering from panic disorders as they are often also suffering from depression, substance abuse or mental health conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Anxiety Disorders vs. General Stress
Most people experience varying amounts of stress in their lives. Traffic jams occur, children get sick and bills need to be paid. Coping strategies abound, and for most people, things are generally tolerable. Occasionally, a high-stress situation such as a job loss or the birth of a child may occur. While these situations may be harder to manage, some people find healthy ways to cope, such as exercise, meditation and social support. Even when people turn to less healthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol, things are often only temporary. Someone might drink too much after a breakup, for example, but gradually transition back to normal levels.
However, some people have symptoms that exceed normal levels in times of stress. They may have a generalized anxiety disorder. This is characterized by feeling excessive anxiety, worry and stress for months at a time.
There are several symptoms associated with generalized anxiety disorder. These include:
• Feeling restless, wound-up or on edge all the time
• Becoming easily fatigued
• Having difficulty focusing
• Being irritable
• Having muscle tension
• Being unable to sleep
Anxiety disorders also encompass phobias and social anxiety as well as panic disorder. While panic attacks are the most severe variant of anxiety disorders, there are other types that can also be debilitating.
Even if you have only experienced one of the milder variants of an anxiety disorder, you should still feel free to call 866-903-3787 for help. The best thing is to seek help before a small problem blooms into a larger one.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an anxiety disorder, such as recurring panic attacks or social anxiety issues, know that help is available and that it is free and confidential. Don’t suffer alone and in silence. Reach out for the help you need by calling The National Mental Health Hotline today.