Panic or Anxiety Attacks?
How to Know the Difference and What Can Help.
I have heard many people tell me hey have panic attacks or anxiety attacks a lot. Just like them, I did not really know there was a difference. I just used to terms interchangeably like others. Well, today is about panic attacks and anxiety attacks and how essential oils can help.
Anxiety attacks can make you feel extremely horrible just like a panic attack. They can be super intense, frightening, and you feel as though its the end of the world Anxiety attacks are usually caused by severe stress or stressors. Now, anxiety attacks can happen without a trigger but for the most part, it is a fear of something or being overwhelmed with stress. Anxiety attacks can mimic certain health issues but unlike a panic attack, many people can tell they are about to have an anxiety attack. They usually happen because of a fear or a worry about a certain thought or feeling. Many people will have anxiety attacks before they have a presentation to present in front of a group of people. Other people can have anxiety attacks if they are going over a bridge and the traffic comes to a complete stop right in the middle of the bridge.
Panic attacks on the other hand usually strike out of no where. There are usually no triggers or stressors. You're simply standing in the toilet paper aisle looking at the different brands when, like a ninja popping at you from behind, Bam! You can't breathe. You start to lose all state of rational thinking. The aisle grows small, you get tunnel vision, heart starts beating, you get sweaty, you feel like you're going to pass out. A panic attack climaxes in about 10 minutes but it is usually the worst 10 minutes of your life. You feel as though you are losing control. Panic attacks also mimic heart disease, breathing disorders, and other life threatening issues which is why many people choose to go to the hospital because they are extremely intense.
Sad thing about panic attacks and anxiety attacks both, are many people fear they will have another one so they start avoiding people, places, or even friends or family. I talk to a lot of people who don't even want to drive anymore for fear of having panic attacks. So its like a domino effect. They start avoiding leaving the house. Then, they avoid family game night. There are some people who begin to avoid life in general because they fear having panic attacks.
Panic attacks can be brought on by certain health issues like hyper or hypothyroidism, Lyme Disease, poor gut health, medication withdrawal, substance abuse, or low blood sugar. I know that many years (about 7 or 8) I dealt with moderate to severe anxiety. I hated to sit in theaters, church, even my work because the anxiety was so intense. Sleeping was not easy. I know there were nights when I would wake up Jason and have him take me to the E.R. because I thought I was dying. All the blood work came back good. MRIs, CAT Scans, electrocardiograms were good. They were just very intense panic attacks.
Come to find out, 1 year after marrying Jason, my TSH was at 71. It is healthy to be from 0.5 to 5.0. My doctor called me in his office the next morning and told me that mine was the 2nd highest he had seen in all his years of practice. He kept questioning me about symptoms I did not have. I had no symptoms of Hypothyroidism except for the anxiety (I still did not know at that time that anxiety was a symptom). My doctor told me to go home and learn everything I could about my thyroid. He put me on Nature-throid and I went home and began to do my homework.
Anyway. I digress and I apologize. Now I would like to share with you my favorite essential oils for anxiety and panic. My first go to is lavender. I can't tell you how many times I have grabbed my bottle of lavender and sniffed myself calm. I also cannot tell you how many times I repeated 2 Timothy 1:7 over and over again. "For You have not given us a spirit of fear: But of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." It was nice that I was not having to go tot he E.R. every time I had an attack but I would sniff the oils and repeat scripture.
Lavender is well known for its ability to "calm the mental storm." Lavender is antibacterial, antifungal, and has antidepressant properties. It has been used for many years to help with the symptoms of anxiety but also helpful with digestion issues, allergies, and sleep (among many other issues). Lavender contains more than 160 constituents which contributes to its healing qualities.
My next favorite "anxious" oils is Spikenard. When I first smelled Spikenard, I was in L-O-V-E. This is a very deep woodsy calming and relaxing oil. I like to diffuse this one while I sleep. Spikenard is known to help people with headaches, depressive symptoms, atherosclerosis, and acid reflux. Spikenard is good to help with vertigo, good for the liver, and also good for the skin. It is also known to be an anti-inflammatory.
Another popular oil to use for anxiety and stress is Ylang Ylang. This one is good for those who have a lot of social anxiety issues, self-esteem issues, emotional shock, and anxiety. It is helpful to help out with being optimistic, and known to help provide antioxidant support. It also helps with mental well being and helps improve appetite.
Some other things that will help with panic and anxiety which is not listed under the essential oil category; SLEEP! If you have anxiety and sleep, you need a healthy sleep pattern. 7-8 hours are good. Try not to sleep more than 8 or 9 hours a night (like, don't stay in bed all day and all night because you have anxiety. You may be causing it to be worse). Exercise is extremely helpful. I know that exercise always helped my anxiety and panic attacks decrease because belly breathing is good to keep anxiety at bay.
Omega 3 fatty acids are something to consider putting in your diet. They are necessary for normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. Foods like cold water fish and taking Krill oil are helpful.
Choline is an essential B vitamin. Choline help promote regeneration of myelin (it helps the brain). . You can get choline in grass fed liver, egg yolks.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral which is important for many body processes that affect the brain and mental health. Selenium is found in Brazil Nuts, wild caught seafood, pasteurized eggs, and grass fed meat.
Iron is a trace mineral found in every cell of the body. It carries oxygen to every part of the body. Low iron can contribute to panic attacks so it is important to make sure your iron count is healthy by routine blood work. You can find iron in Beef liver, spirulina, dark chocolate, spinach, and raisins.
If you have panic or anxiety issues, get your Vitamin D levels checked. Low Vitamin D can contribute to depression, anxiety, along with depression. Every tissue in the body has Vitamin D receptors. It is healthy to be out in the sun for 20 minutes a day with the sun shining on your back. (That does not mean to go lay out in 100 degree sun. Use common sense). You can also take Vitamin D3 supplements.
Make sure you get routine blood work done yearly. Get your thyroid checked out (FULL THYROID PANEL...don't let them just test your TSH ). Make sure all your numbers are in healthy range. This can save you from a lot of problems down the road just by getting all your numbers checked.
- Heather Carnes