Anxiety Attacks in the Workplace: You are in an important meeting at work when out of nowhere you begin to tremble. Your heart starts racing. You feel nauseated. A sense of confusion comes over you and you feel like you might be having a heart attack.
What you might be experiencing is an anxiety attack – a sudden episode of intense fear that prompts a physical reaction in your body. Many people, fearing they are having a heart attack, go to the emergency room. Others ignore the signs and symptoms, not realizing what they are experiencing.
Stress in the workplace can begin or aggravate already existing Panic and Anxiety Disorder (PAD). Even if stressors outside of work are involved, an employee’s confidence and performance can decrease on the job because he or she fears being embarrassed by an attack at work. Time on the job may also be lost due to worry over having an attack. Individuals suffering panic attacks often go to great lengths to hide their symptoms because they fear ridicule. Ashamed of and isolated by the disorder, she is constantly terrorized by thoughts of having an attack at in the presence of a boss or co-workers.
How can you cope with the anxiety attacks and continue to be successful at work? For starters, both employers and employees stand the best chance of surmounting problems arising from Panic Disorder if they educate themselves about the condition and communicate with each other. Lack of communication on either side can be quite damaging in a business relationship. A worker who inflates what she’s realistically capable of handling at the present time for fear of “letting the company down” may destroy the relationship as much as the boss who agrees to lessen workplace tension and then continues to impose rigid deadlines.
Basic facts about anxiety attacks: An anxiety attack is a sudden and intense episode of fear or panic that can come on without warning. Symptoms of an anxiety attack can include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath or feeling smothered
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Trembling or shaking
- Choking sensation
- Nausea or stomach discomfort
- Feelings of detachment or unrealness
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
It's important to understand that anxiety attacks are not dangerous, but they can feel very distressing. There are several things that you can do to help reduce the symptoms of an anxiety attack:
- Deep breathing: slow, deep breaths can help slow down your heart rate and reduce feelings of panic.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups can help reduce muscle tension and stress.
- Grounding techniques: such as focusing on your surroundings, using your senses to take in the environment, and using positive self-talk, can help bring you back to the present moment and reduce feelings of detachment.
- Seeking professional help: it is important to work with a mental health professional to understand the root cause of anxiety attacks and develop a treatment plan.
It is important to remember that anxiety attacks are a treatable condition and with the right support, you can manage them and regain control over your life.
The length of time it takes to overcome anxiety attacks can vary depending on the individual and the specific type of anxiety disorder. In general, it can take several weeks to months of consistent therapy and self-help strategies to see significant improvement in symptoms.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety disorders and typically it's short-term (6-20 sessions) and can help individuals develop new coping mechanisms to manage the symptoms of anxiety.
However, it's important to keep in mind that healing and recovery are not linear and may require adjustments and readjustments of treatment plans.
You should seek professional help if the anxiety attacks are frequent, or if you constantly worry about having another attack, or if you change your behavior in response to ongoing anxiety attacks. PAD is highly responsive to treatment. Treatment options range from developing relaxation techniques and behavioral therapy to medication. The chances for a positive work outcome are best when you take control, become honest with yourself, and ask someone for help. No one needs to suffer alone. Help is available. Call The Center for Growth to seek anxiety therapy at 215-922-5683, Ext. 100. We offer therapy in Philadelphia, PA, Ocean City, NJ, Richmond, VA, and Santa Fe, NM. We also offer telehealth services in Georgia and Florida.