Everybody has experienced feeling anxious or nervous at times. It is normal to experience anxiety in certain situations like exams and job interviews or other very stressful events. Anxiety is a natural human reaction; it is part of our instinctive defense reaction called “fight or flight.” Still, this doesn’t mean that all anxiety is natural. For instance, panic attacks are both a symptom of and the cause of extreme stress, and it is important for us to learn to control panic attacks before they control us.

If you for instance were startled when you were walking to your car in an empty parking lot, you may have experienced all the typical symptoms of a panic attack, like heart pounding, sweating, nausea and shortness of breath. As uncomfortable as this episode might have been, you don’t feel like you need to learn to control your panic attacks, because you know you were just having a natural mental and physical reaction to a situation that scared you.

If, however, you find yourself having this same panic reaction every time you walk to your car at night, you are probably suffering from anxiety and it might be necessary for you to take some measures to learn to deal with and control panic attacks.

When you start working on controlling you panic attacks, it is important that you realize that control can be a slippery slope when it comes to panic and anxiety because one of the problems with anxiety sufferers is that they try so hard to control their world.

To avoid situations you are scared of is not to control panic attacks; avoiding certain situations because you might have a panic attack is very common for anxiety sufferers, and it helps make their anxiety worse, not better. Controlling your environment in an attempt to control panic attacks is actually a very common part of anxiety disorder and it can make you situation so bad in the long run that you can develop agoraphobia and find yourself completely housebound.

Agoraphobia develops as the attempts to control anxiety makes you avoid more and more places and situations. This behavior enforces your fears and confirms to your subconscious mind that there is something to be afraid of. The loner you avoid something, and the more situations you avoid, the smaller your world grows. Agoraphobics are afraid to leave their house; some will only go out to certain places and only when accompanied with a spouse, family member or close friend they feel very close to, others are completely housebound and do not leave their house at all. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as many as one third of people who suffer from panic disorder develop agoraphobia.

It is important to learn to control panic attacks, as they can be extremely limiting and hurt your overall quality of life. Controlling panic attacks usually includes learning to accept your panic attacks and to start working on the behavior you have that is keeping your panic disorder alive.

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