I was just looking over this page were I talk about my first panic attack and I realised that there are early warning signs to watch out for, before you start having panic attacks.
I don’t mean the early warning signs that psychologists talk about, where you can end up having a panic attack in the next few minutes or hours. If that was what you where looking for, you can read about the triggers here. I mean, there are things that can happen to you, that might alert you to the fact that, if not nipped in the bud, you might end up having a panic attack in the next month or two and trust me, you don’t want that to happen to you.
Unfortunately I did not recognise this in myself, but if I did, I might have been able to prevent my anxiety from escalating into panic attacks.
I sat staring at that last sentence for about 5 minutes, wondering how did I not spot it. I’m a psychologist myself. And I think the answer to that, is that I did not know that I had anxiety.
It’s now very easy for me to see, as since having my first panic attack, I started to specialise in anxiety disorders. That, and perhaps more importantly, I am now a bit more tuned in to my own body and how my own thought processes can spiral if left unchecked!
How did I not know that I had anxiety?
I was so accustomed to being me, that I did not see how I was operating in the world. There was no defining moment where I could see, ‘oh that looks like the start of anxiety.’ I had been anxious all my adult life in some form or other. Maybe not diagnosable until well into my 30’s but all the behaviours were present.
For that reason, I thought I should write something about it, as if you were like me, you might not realise that you are anxious until it is too late!
Warning signs to watch out for
An obvious one maybe, but do you already have anxiety?
How do you cope with stressors in your life?
For example, relationships, work etc When I look back on myself, I can clearly see that I was a worrier. I worried about everything.
Are you reactions more dramatic than you would like?
What to do if you notice warning signs?
If you already have anxiety – do something about it. There are many options open to you. I have an online course that you are welcome to look at.
If you are not interested in self help, I would recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Another option is to start with a mindfulness practice. You can find books on this, there could possibly be classes in your area, or a quick Google, will give you plenty of information.
Just do something, don’t sit with the anxiety as it is unlikely to go away on it’s own, unless you make some changes.