Hi. It’s Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com. Our question today is from Colleen in Wadena, Minnesota. Is it good to be active like going to play outside or joining some sports or just rest at home if you have anxiety attacks?
If you are getting anxiety attacks, it is time to see your physician or a therapist. Medical causes need to be ruled out. A physician can do this or a therapist can and should refer you to a physician to rule out physical causes of the symptoms. Once this is done and it is established you are getting panic attacks for psychological reasons, a therapist can be of great assistance in controlling them.
Panic attacks are very treatable; however, isolating yourself can make anxiety worse. When someone has an anxiety attack or panic attack, which are the same thing, these tend to be an overwhelming urge to flee to a safe place. Every time someone flees or withdraws from the situation that produced the panic attack, it reinforces that escaping eased the symptoms. You may associate the place the panic attack occurred with panic symptoms and create what is called a “condition to response,” which can grow stronger over time and generalize to other situations.
For example, if you have a panic attack at the market, you will typically feel the need to leave the market quickly and get home. You may anticipate having another panic attack. And the next time you go to the market, the symptoms happen again, so you leave the market again. Expecting a panic attack at a certain place triggers it, so you try a different market or the situation and location are similar enough, both places sell food and there are a lot of people around. But the panic response generalizes and you get panic attacks at that market as well.
In the most severe cases, this can generalize to any outside environment and the person stops leaving the house. In extreme cases, a person cannot leave a specific room in the house without having panic symptoms. Seeking professional assistance can keep things from getting worse.