Anxiety and Panic Attacks

The feelings that you get when you are anxious are similar to those of feeling afraid or frightened. This means that you may get physical symptoms such as sweating, quickened heart beat, or ‘butterflies’ in your stomach. Alongside this, many people have negative thoughts and ideas which seem difficult to control, or perhaps worry about everything and anything.

You may not know why you are feeling anxious, but if you can talk about it to someone, you may find that you are frightened or worried about something.

Everybody feels anxious sometimes (e.g. about exams or flying), and this is perfectly normal. It is when someone feels anxious most of the time that it can become a problem for them.

If you are feeling anxious, it is important to try and get some help and talk about it, as it can be really difficult to live with, and may lead to you having panic attacks.

What is a Panic Attack?

A panic attack is when you suddenly feel extremely anxious and afraid accompanied by physical symptoms which may include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pains
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Jelly legs


If you start feeling panicky, it is important to try and breathe normally by taking slow, deep breaths and reassure yourself that panic is just a strong feeling and cannot do any physical harm.

If you can, try and talk to someone for some reassurance. If you are alone, try to think of a safe place or person to bring your mind back into the present. You could look around you and perhaps notice what the weather is like, notice what you can hear and smell, anything to take your mind off the panic and the thoughts that could have caused it.

Anger

Anger can be a frightening emotion but if dealt with properly can be a healthy one. People that have been abused have a right to be angry. If you have feelings of anger that you find overwhelming it is important you get some help.

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Drugs/Alcohol

Drugs and Alcohol – Some people who have been affected by sexual abuse or rape may use alcohol or street drugs as a way of coping with the painful feelings they are left with. Often, it can be a way of blocking out what happened and all the terrible thoughts and feelings.

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Guit and Shame

Should I feel guilty because I didn’t stop the abuse? No, even though it is very common for people who have been sexually abused to feel this way. When an adult sexually abuses a child, they are using their power over you to make you do things they know are wrong.

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Depression

If you are feeling different to your usual self, are not interested in the things you used to be interested in, feel sad a lot of the time you may be depressed. There are lots of different feelings linked with depression and they are unique to each person.

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Eating Disorders

The National Centre for Eating Disorders state that there are thousands of people suffering from eating disorders who feel they have weight problems and may be obsessed with food and weight. Eating disorders include Anorexia, Bulimia and Compulsive Overeating or Binge Eating.

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Nightmares

Nightmares and Flashbacks – A flashback is like reliving a distressing event that may have happened recently or many years ago. Many people who have been sexually abused or raped experience flashbacks. They can be triggered by a place, a smell or even a sound.

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