Feeling overwhelmed by work?
Panic attacks are an all too familiar reality for many Americans. They can occur at anytime or place without warning, including the workplace.
Having a panic attack in the office, or in general, causes a disabling feeling. But what really is a panic attack?
Panic attacks can be abrupt and last up to 10 minutes, subsiding after reaching peak symptom levels.
“Although you are not in real danger, the mind perceives danger, and the panic attack causes physiological reactions that make you feel a loss of control, and even at times, a sense of impending death,” says Dr. Kim Miiller, a clinical psychologist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill.
Panic attacks are caused by the activation of the fight-or-flight response, which is how our bodies react to a dangerous situation. During a panic attack, our body activates the fight-or-flight response when we aren’t in actual danger, which can negatively affect your quality of life.
Since the workplace can lead to a great deal of stress, it’s not surprising it induces anxiety or panic attacks for some. After a panic attack occurs, it’s common for people to want to avoid the location where it occurred, but that isn’t possible with work. It’s important to get ahead of the avoidance with treatment before associating the workplace with more anxiety.
“Panic attacks are a stressful physical state that affect all people alike,” Dr. Miiller adds. “Symptoms can be overwhelming, but can often be managed by implementing coping skills to counter the over-activation of our fight-or-flight response.”
Contrary to what many believe, accepting and focusing on the symptoms of a panic attack can help you overcome it. There are simple breathing treatments that can easily be done at your desk or quiet office spaces to help battle panic attacks.
The American Psychiatric Association released information on controlled breathing treatments that can be a powerful resource to boast relaxation and control anxiety. The goal is to slow the rate of breathing to about five breaths per minute. To do this, follow these simple breathing tips at your desk next time you feel an attack catching you at work:
- Sit upright in your chair.
- Breath lightly, solely through your nose.
- Inhale to expand the belly for about six seconds, while taking a break in-between inhale and exhale.
- Exhale for six seconds.
- Repeat for ten to twenty minutes.
About the Author
Allison Garetto, health enews contributor, is a public affairs intern at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She is a senior at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where she is pursuing a degree in communication and a minor in psychology. Allison is a vegetarian, artist and travel enthusiast.