Preventing Panic Attacks - Recognize Triggers

Yesterday Christy did a great job explaining the symptoms of a panic attack. Today we want to discuss the triggers of a panic attack. These would be things/people/environments that may make us more likely to have a panic attack, thus, it would be helpful to distance ourselves from these situations. Unfortunately, sometimes there is nothing we can do to avoid a panic attack....they just occur.

How to Recognize Triggers:

At times, we may notice the pattern that we have a panic attack when we are hanging around a certain person/group of people in our lives. If this is the case, try to limit the contact you have with this person/group of people to see if the anxiety decreases and improves.

If we've suffered a trauma, anything reminding us of the trauma may trigger a panic attack. This can include smells, sounds, tastes, etc. For example, if a spouse had an affair in May, it would be very common for panic attacks to begin in March or April as you see Spring in bloom and smell rain. These sights and smells would be reminders of the pain you previously endured and would most likely create high anxiety.

Lifestyle may also contribute to panic attacks. Living with long-term stress (from any source/cause) will increase the likelihood of panic attacks occurring in someone's life. Living in a space that is full of clutter can increase stress or anxiety. Unresolved grief or loss can increase anxiety.

Consuming caffeine or certain types of drugs can increase the likelihood of having a panic attack. Avoiding anything that will "speed" up your heart and nervous system is best if you find yourself being an anxious person. Adding caffeine or drugs to anxiety only increases the chances of a panic attack.

These are just a few examples of triggers, but hopefully broad enough that it helps give you an idea of ways to assess life if you do suffer from panic attacks. As mentioned earlier, sometimes there is nothing we can do to avoid a panic attack. If this is the case for you, perhaps EMDR therapy would be beneficial. Over the next few days we’ll be discussing ways to cope with a panic attack. Thanks for reading!

Written by: Tamara McCord MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.