Feeling anxious and panicky after a traumatic event is normal. But how do you know if you're suffering from something else? Psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz joined me on this special episode of Mondays With Marlo and explained the differences between an anxiety disorder and a panic attack.
Anxiety is a case of the "what ifs" -- what if I go here and a bomb goes off? What if someone goes crazy at the mall? These sorts of thoughts are normal after a scary event, but, if after several weeks these anxieties are disrupting your life to the point where you can't concentrate on relationships and work, you might have a disorder.
A panic attack is different -- it's a sudden feeling of being overwhelmed combined with physical symptoms like nausea, shortness of breath or heart palpitations. These can last for 15-30 minutes. If you feel like you might be suffering from an anxiety disorder or panic attacks, it's important to see a professional who can help.
Watch the full interview here.
Get more of Dr. Gail Saltz's tips on coping with tragedies:
It is important to know the basic realities of what is going on so that you can make proper plans and be equipped to deal with whatever arises as best as possible. In addition, the facts are often less frightening than the rumors you are hearing on the street. Understand the statistics of this, this is truly a rare event.
Once you have gotten the facts for the day, do not continue to watch and read the same stuff over and over. Repeated exposure will likely increase your feelings of anxiety and helplessness.
It’s natural to feel anxious about attending public events or being in crowded places, but as difficult as it may be, it’s important to keep things in perspective. There are millions of towns and cities and statistically, you are less likely to be involved in a terrorist attack than you are to be struck by lightning.
Explain to older children what has happened. They will hear about the news and, if you don’t address it with them, be frightened that you thought it was too awful to tell them and you kept it secret. With younger children, explain what happened, but don’t let them watch the news. It might frighten them and appear as though something is actually happening over and over again.
Give children only the facts they need to know -- not gory details. Tell them they can talk with you about their fears or concerns.
Talking things over is helpful and better than staying isolated and worried. But avoid anyone who is very panicky and wants to pump you up with anxiety.
In situations where you have no control, helping can be the best cure. Raising money for people directly affected by tragic events or even sending a card or flowers to express your support makes people feel like they are not alone.
Do things that you can have control over, like your work, volunteer work, organizing your home or going to the movies. Read and watch more positive and fun things.
Avoid caffeine, which can make you jittery. Go out and exercise to relieve stress. And minimize alcohol which disrupts sleep.
If you experience the following symptoms -- inability to function in daily life, two weeks of sleeplessness, loss of concentration or enjoyment of anything, loss of appetite, overwhelming feelings of worry and panic (with or without nausea, sweating, palpitations, breathlessness and sense of doom) -- then please seek professional help.
Add Marlo On Facebook:
Follow Marlo on Twitter:
Sign up to receive my email newsletter each week - It will keep you up-to-date on upcoming articles, Mondays with Marlo guests, videos, and more!
Sign up here