How can I stop getting panic attacks

Always getting these attacks when left on my own at work when I was told that I would get support and never do. I am a team leader so am expected to do everything.
I have also been off with overwork but they don't seem to listen now I'm back due to my pay being reduced
Asked by Sluss

Hi Sluss - Thank you for your question. I'm Dani a licensed therapist working on the BetterHelp platform. I'm sorry to hear that you are experiencing panic attacks, that must be very difficult. It sounds like they happen to you quite often at work, when you are on your own. As a team leader it sounds like you have a lot of stress and pressure in your job, as well as a lack of support from your boss, particularly when you have had to take time off work previously from being over loaded.

Panic attacks generally happen when we feel too stressed by something to cope. Our body goes into 'fight or flight' mode. As cave men and women this helped us deal with threats and danger within the environment. If a sabre-tooth tiger was stalking us, we needed to be ready to run away fast. The fight or flight mechanism can still help us stay safe now, it stops us walking out in front of cars, and teaches us to keep ourselves safe in a fight. But it's not so helpful when we are busy at work and our internal response to a threat is not in proportion to what is actually happening to us in the moment. As the stress levels increase in our body, we become flooded with Cortisol, the stress hormone. Our heart rate starts to race and our breathing quickens and we feel breathless, dizzy and like we might be about to die. It really can feel completely terrifying and like it will never end. 

I'm not sure if you have seen your doctor to get the panic attacks officially diagnosed, but if you haven't I would recommend you do this. This is to make sure it is a panic attack and not another more serious health issue such as a heart condition, which might mimic the symptoms. There is also research to link panic attacks with causing heart issues, this isn't definitive yet but it definitely points to getting treatment quickly so you don't risk long term health problems. I can see you are doing a lot to help yourself by reaching out here - well done for that. Your doctor may also suggest medication to help with the panic attacks, so it could be good for you to investigate the options.

Counseling can definitely help with panic attacks. I would work with you and your story. I would ask you about your experiences and how the panic attacks impact you and together we could work to understand what your particular triggers are.  This can help you to understand why you are having the attacks and can help you learn strategies to prevent them and to safeguard yourself. Work sounds like a big part of the trigger, and I wonder if you have experienced the panic attacks before, or if this is something recent? Triggers can seem obvious or sometimes they can be harder to understand. Perhaps a past trauma is resurfacing, a bit like PTSD, and your mind is struggling with a difficult memory or experience? It might even not be something that you are consciously aware of. If that does fit for your experience, I can help you work with that too. 

Once you understand exactly what your particular triggers are, we can look at different techniques to help you control the feeling of panic. There are CBT resources such as managing your thinking to help stop the attacks happening or to reduce the frequency and severity. There are also many grounding and relaxation techniques that can help keep our breathing relaxed. This helps our body produce relaxing hormones, so we keep our nervous system calm. This is a natural antidote to stress and panic. I would teach you some techniques and help you find the ones that are most helpful for you. 

I hope my answer is helpful. I do have space in my schedule and would be very happy to meet with you if you would like further support, you are welcome to book a session with me. Thank you for your question and I wish you the best of luck. 

Warmest wishes, Dani