What are panic attacks?

Definition of a panic attack: 'A sudden feeling of acute and disabling anxiety.'

Panic attacks are part of the flight or fight system as I mentioned in a previous post titled 'What is Anxiety?' Panic attacks arise due to the rush of adrenaline that you get due to the fight or flight. We have this system due to our time as cavemen. When we were going to be attacked by a bear for example, we would have the choice to fight or run and this is what the adrenaline is for. It gives us an extra push to perform the action. However, for many anxiety sufferers this fight or flight system arises even when there is no danger at all. For example, you could be in a crowded place, or about to take part in a big event. This poses no threat, yet your body sends a rush of adrenaline. Many people may now be asking, 'well, what's the problem with that?' Often panic attack sufferers will end up not being able to breathe, feeling sick, light headed, crying, and eventually really tired due to the exhaustion. For many panic attack sufferers, their senses highten and for others they become quite confused. As with anxiety in general, each symptom depends on the person. Panic attacks drain all of your energy. As mentioned above sufferers can feel quite ill. This sickness feeling comes from the digestive system slowing down due to the adrenaline. 

Panic attacks can last for a few minutes to many hours. They can also be on and off. 

Panic attacks tend to prevent some people from doing what they love as they are afraid that they will experience a panic attack whilst out and about. This again is very disabling for a person. The reason why people think this way is because the flight and fight system often repeats itself. For example, if you had a panic attack in a Mall, the next time you visit, it is highly likely that you will experience another one, even though there was no danger present at either time. 

If you need any more information on panic attacks, don't be afraid to contact me.

As always, thanks for reading.

What is Anxiety?

Definition of Anxiety - 'A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.'

You will have heard many of your friends and family talk about being nervous or anxious before a big event, such as an exam, driving test or first date. It is completely normal for a human to experience periods of anxiety before such events. Sometime during the event and by the time the event is over, the anxiety will have disappeared. However, there are some people who tend to be in an almost permanent state of anxiety. These are the people like you and I who suffer with anxiety as a condition. The anxiety may be triggered by specific places or events such as school, going to a shop and meeting friends.

Anxiety can come in different severities, from mild to severe. People who suffer with mild anxiety, can still get on with their lives and tend to only experience anxiety before big events. But as we move down the scale, the worse the anxiety gets until we reach severe anxiety. Severe anxiety can result in not being able to leave the house, not being able to go on public transport and not even having the ability to talk to someone on the phone. It stops practically everything you want to do. I have experienced this severity of anxiety.

There are many different symptoms which come with anxiety, these can include: loss of appetite, dizziness, sickness, tender stomach and lack of sleep. No person is the same. Not every symptom will be present in each person and its severity will differ from person to person. An additional symptom can be depression, which is caused by the anxiety. This can also go from mild to severe. 

Anxiety is based upon what is known as the 'fight or flight' system. This fight or flight system comes from when we were cavemen  This system will tell us whether to run, or fight the situation. The person will tend to have a lot of adrenaline in order to take on the situation. The difference with an anxiety sufferer is that this adrenaline tends to be present in almost every situation, even if the situation presents no threat.

It is also important for an anxiety sufferer to get lots of sleep. I understand that it's very hard to sleep when you are suffering with the condition, but whilst you are sleeping you undergo REM (rapid eye movement) This is essential in order to relieve your anxiety, as the body is getting rid of all of the stress from the day. 

Some sufferers will have this condition for many years, others for a few weeks or months. Recovery has no time limit. Personally, I believe that I am at a good stage in my recovery. It has taken me over a year to get where I am today. I hope that this post has improved your understanding of anxiety. If there is anything else I can help with or you need me to explain further, let me know. I'm here to help!

Revision Tips

Since I've been preparing for my exams, I've put together some top revision tips:

1. Vocabulary - the best way to learn vocabulary for me is through seeing something repeatedly. So, put the words or definitions where you are going to see them a lot. I.e. the bathroom, bedroom and so on. You'll be learning vocabulary in no time and without even trying. On the other hand, learning vocabulary can be effective if you learn so many words each day. For example, I try to learn 10 German words a day.

2. Mind maps - mind maps are my saviours. I created a mind map for each topic and used information from class notes and books. I condensed the information down and used a range colours and shapes. It's proven that your brain remembers information if it's connected with a shape. 

3. Classical music - I'm not a fan of classical music, however there have been studies to suggest that it improves your brain power! I've found that it keeps me concentrated as it's a stimulant. Before, I used to get distracted singing along to lyrics.

4. Make sure you have a plan - it's really important to have a plan of when, where and how much revision you are going to do. It's suggested to do an hour per subject per day. This plan will keep you on track.

5. Learn to have a break - if my anxiety has taught me anything, it's to have a break. Forever, my teachers had been worried that I would 'burn out.' Taking a day off now and then is fine, even if it's a couple of days. It's needed to refresh your brain. When it comes to revising, I tend to revise in a half hour to hourly block, then take ten or so minutes off before the next subject.

6. Past papers are the secret - you have revised everything, but you have never seen a past paper? Past papers are good for your timing, knowing what has come up in the past and practice for what the examiners are looking for.

7. When should I revise? - you need to revise when you are the most efficient. For me that's early in the morning or at night. There is a quiz that can be taken to see when you revise best. On the other hand, if you revise before you go to bed, your brain will be absorbing the information whilst you sleep.

8. No pain no gain - you have to set rewards. Revision can be a drag, so every time you finish a module, give yourself a reward. This can be a piece of chocolate, listening to your favorite song and so on. Your brain will soon get used to revision. The brain wants to do things that are rewarding. 

9. The future - I know that when you're four months before the exam, you don't see the point in revising. Imagine the day you open those results and get those A's and B's because of the hard work; it will keep you motivated.

10. Time - it's important to start revising early. It's best to have time to keep repeating and learning. Many teachers argue that this is the most important thing. It's suggested to do an hour per subject per night from the beginning of the course. In this time you can be creating mind maps and so on, therefore when it comes to revision, you're ready.

11. Examiner reports - these are amazing. The examiners are basically telling you what to do and what not to do in the exam.

Remember that hard work will pay off, but also remember that exams aren't everything. It's really hard for me to realise that. I want to get really good exam results to prove that this condition hasn't defeated me. As one of my teachers said before an exam once 'You could be dying right now, it's only an exam.' 

Just try your best. I wish you good luck!