A panic or anxiety attack is a sudden feeling of fear that seems to pop up out of nowhere. During an attack, you may feel as though your world is coming to an end. But tens of thousands of panic attacks occur every day — and that means you’re far from alone. If you don't want to be a victim of these attacks or allow the experience to ruin your life, the best thing to do is learn how to prevent panic attacks.
Anxiety can cause distressing symptoms and can take a huge toll on your body and mind. While anxiety can be caused by many different things, there are several common triggers that can worsen symptoms and even cause panic attacks.
Common Anxiety Triggers
Anxiety can be triggered by several different factors, both physical and mental. While mental triggers are unique to the individual, there are several common physical triggers that can cause or worsen the symptoms of anxiety. Identifying your own triggers is the first step toward stopping anxiety attacks and preventing further symptoms.
Tips for Preventing Panic Attacks
Here are a few effective tips you can implement to address common triggers.
Pay Attention to Food Sensitivities: Food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities can all cause symptoms that trigger anxiety. While food allergies usually cause noticeable symptoms that require prompt medical treatment, intolerances and sensitivities can cause vague discomfort and chronic symptoms that you may not connect with the food you eat.
Breathing difficulties, sinus congestion and digestive complaints, such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and acid reflux, can all be caused by food sensitivities and may trigger anxiety or panic attacks. Keeping a food diary and monitoring chronic symptoms to see which foods cause problems can be helpful, but you may need to consult a doctor or nutritionist if serious reactions occur.
Avoid Dehydration: Because our bodies are mostly water, dehydration and mood changes are strongly linked. Even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, muscle tension, irritability, confusion, and anxiety. Adequate fluid intake is needed for proper functioning of the brain and body.
It’s important to stay hydrated and avoid excessive consumption of diuretics, including coffee and alcohol. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day, although fluid requirements can vary greatly from one person to the next. So, pay attention to your thirst.
Monitor Nutritional Deficiencies: Low levels of some vitamins and minerals in the body can affect the nervous system, leading to low mood, mood swings, irritability, and anxiety. B vitamins are essential for many different functions, including brain function and metabolism. Vitamins C and E are needed for the nervous system to function correctly, while selenium is necessary for normal processes associated with neurotransmitters in the brain.
A deficiency of magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids can cause anxiety, irritability, and fatigue. Eating a balanced diet is the best way to prevent deficiencies, but supplements may be needed for some people — particularly those with certain health conditions. Some medications can prevent absorption of essential nutrients. It's important to talk to a doctor if nutritional deficiencies are suspected.
Consider the Medications You’re Taking: Prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs and even health supplements can trigger anxiety symptoms. Weight loss supplements, decongestant tablets, asthma medication and painkillers are among the many drugs that sometimes have these side effects caused by stimulants.
Stimulants cause the heart to beat faster, increase muscle tension and trigger anxiety symptoms. Caffeine, found in tea, coffee, energy drinks and some medications, can cause panic attacks in some people. Herbal supplements and alternative remedies can also trigger anxiety symptoms, particularly when combined with certain medications. Be sure to check with your doctor before using supplements.
- Pay Attention to Food Additives and Pollutants: Certain food additives are known to disrupt the nervous system and lead to anxiety. While some people are more sensitive than others to food additives, many anxiety sufferers notice a worsening of symptoms after eating foods containing high fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame. Environmental pollutants, cigarette smoke and alcohol are also common triggers for anxiety.
- Seek Therapy for Emotional Support: Emotional factors such as suppressed feelings, anger and grief can all be triggers for anxiety. Therefore, talking to a therapist may be needed to stop having panic attacks.
Use these tips for preventing anxiety attacks and to diminish their severity and occurrence. If you need additional help, contact Brookhaven Retreat today for professional assistance turning these tips into a comprehensive treatment plan.