Panic Diary (A Comprehensive Guide)

The world is growing rapidly these days and so are psychological problems.

In this fast-paced world, anxiety and depression have become widely known and people are trying to get out of these diseases for so long.

There are many causes of these disorders and some of those causes are still unknown.

According to an estimate, today’s high school children have the same stress levels as the 1960s mental asylum patients.

This is an alarming situation that needs to be dealt with carefully and people with the help of psychologists are trying to the best they can.

Psychology has solved many problems related to mental health. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorder-5 (DSM-V) has classified many disorders to provide a clear depiction of mental diseases.

There are also many therapies available to help people deal with these problems. However, the incidents are increasing day by day.

The stressors to move along with the fast-paced world are powerful enough to make people more prone to anxiety and stress.

People are becoming more and more self-conscious with every passing day. There are many famous problems which people often know they face even when there are many treatment methods available.

Anxiety also comes with a lot of comorbidities and panic attacks are one of the manifestations of anxiety. It is not a new term and most people are familiar with the term.

However, not everyone knows how to deal with panic attacks.

This article will throw light on a tool that can help you keep track of your panic attacks and how you could deal with these attacks.

Before moving towards a panic diary and before we start learning about it.

We should first know what panic attacks are and how they are manifested. If you have “know-how” in psychology, you might be familiar with it but other people need to understand.

Then we shall discuss the panic diary and its implications. 

  • Panic Attack

A panic attack is known to be a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear. You feel out of control when a panic attack occurs and it has some of the worse symptoms.

Most people feel like they are having a stroke or there is something seriously wrong with them physically but more often than not it is just a psychosomatic thing.

Sometimes, these panic attacks leave you shattered and exhausted but people learn to live with these even if they are facing them quite regularly.

There could be many symptoms but some of the most commonly occurring symptoms are given below. 

  1. Your heart starts to pound which is also known as palpitations.
  2. You are unable to breathe also known as hyperventilations.
  3. There is excessive sweating
  4. You start trembling.
  5. You also feel a choking sensation.
  6. There could be chest pain. 
  7. You also might feel sick.

Panic attacks could only happen once or they can be recurring as they are both in the form of psychological and physical symptoms.

Recurring panic attacks are triggered due to a specific situation and that situation is anxiety-provoking especially if it has caused you a panic attack before.

It could be as simple as crossing a bridge or talking on the stage. Once you are going through a panic attack, your body activates the ‘fight and flight’ response by alarming the sympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system then takes control and does the above-mentioned changes and also releases a chemical called cortisol which is also known as ‘stress hormone’.

These symptoms mentioned above are the result of the activities of the sympathetic nervous system.

These occur when your body perceives some situation as a threat or stress-provoking. 

  • Treatments of Panic Attacks

With the passage of time as panic attacks have become more prevalent, there are also treatments that have been established for panic attacks.

There are a number of therapies that have proven to be highly effective in the treatment and control of panic attacks. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) takes the lead in the treatment of most disorders.

Similarly, it also provides a significantly effective treatment regimen when it comes to panic attacks and many other anxiety disorders.

However, CBT is somewhat client-centered, so it also asks the client to help the therapist in selecting the treatment and making the treatment work.

There are many tools available which help the clients as well as the therapist to deal during the therapeutic sessions.

CBT uses tools like charts and journals and other record-keeping tools for clients.

The panic diary is one of those tools which helps a client as well as a therapist to not only track down panic attacks but also helps the therapist make a better plan.

It is a rather important tool and everyone who suffers from panic attacks or any anxiety disorder should learn more about the panic diary.

We shall learn more about a panic diary in this article. Let’s start by knowing what a panic diary is.

  • What is a panic diary?

Dealing with panic attacks can be a hectic task but coping can be a little easier if you have everything related to your problem recorded.

Moreover, you will have a better understanding of your triggers related to panic attacks.

In simplest terms we can say that a panic diary is a cognitive behavioral therapy diary that is used to record panic symptoms.

A client can record his panic attack frequency along with information like how the body felt and the sensations etc.

It can be a simple yet useful tool to track how you experienced a panic attack and it will make it easier to manage your symptoms. 

  • Description

Monitoring symptoms of any disorder is of utmost importance and especially when you have to devise a treatment plan for the problem.

An effective treatment plan has many components like symptoms checking, identifying catastrophic thinking, and cognitive restructuring.

The cognitive-behavioral therapy diary for panic attacks has included all the above-mentioned components in it.

It not only records panic attack frequency along with how your body felt during a panic attack and all the negative thoughts.

There is also a column left for a rather rational answer to negative thought.

All these things make a panic diary a must-have for all the panic attack sufferers. 

  • Purpose of Panic Diary

The panic attack diary is mainly related to notice your triggers as well as symptoms.

It can help you effectively cope with your condition and all you need is to get started is paper, pen and some alone time to write down the information.

This will help you to take records of the situations and triggers that result in you panicking in a certain situation or in response to one.

You can easily maintain a panic diary if you keep in mind the following instructions. 

  • First of all, you need to know that every time you have a panic attack, try to put some time separately on the same day to record information about your experience of that panic attack. 
  • Always record your experience with a date.
  • Then tell the diary how you felt physically, emotionally, and mentally when the panic attacks were happening.
  • You should also write how you coped with that particular situation and the symptoms.

This is the record which you are going to show to your therapist, make sure it is filled correctly and honestly.

  • What components does a panic diary cover?

Even if you are still confused about what to write in a panic diary, we are going to help you in this regard too.

The components of a panic diary have been mentioned above but if you are confused about these components, we shall explain to you in detail what these components are and how you should write about these components.

Always remember that you need to write clearly about it because vague concepts can trigger ambiguity which can be problematic when it comes to treatment plans and can result in being more harmful than being useful for you. 

  1. Physiological Changes

The first symptom noted during a panic attack is always physical changes because that’s where the problem begins.

These changes can vary from person to person as individual differences exist in it but these are mostly the same in many people.

Some of the most common physiological symptoms of panic attacks are excessive sweating, shaking or trembling, feelings of numbness, shortness of breath, tingly sensations.

Some people have also reported having chest pain during a panic attack. You can face all or some of these symptoms during a panic attack.

Once the panic attack is over, take your panic diary and enter all of these physiological changes in the panic diary under the label of ‘physical’.

  1. How you Felt

Along with physical symptoms you must have felt something on a psychological or emotional level.

You need to focus on the feeling during your panic attack as well. Hard as it may seem, it is of utmost importance that you write what you fear, thoughts, or feelings during your panic attack.

A person can have feelings of depersonalization or derealization which makes a person feel detached from their physical selves or their surroundings.

Once the panic attack is over, take your panic diary and enter all the emotions, fears, and feelings you had during your panic attack.

  1. Life Events

It is also important to know in which situation you had your panic attack as it can provide a lot of information about your anxiety triggers.

If you start regularly recording your panic attacks, you might see a pattern of situations where you feel anxious and had a panic attack.

Some triggers include large crowds or closed spaces or even a specific means of transportation. 

  1. How you coped

Once the panic attack is over, try to remember how you coped with the situation and try to remember if you used a specific technique like deep breathing or visualization or any other method to calm yourself down.

You can also write any medication you took to get relief from the situation.

You should also write any relaxation technique, stress management skill or any exercises you have been practicing during the week.

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  • FAQ about Panic Diary 

Is panic disorder a lifelong condition?

If panic disorder is treated accurately, it does not relapse but it can be worse for many people.

Some people have reported being housebound for decades.

A panic disorder can stay for many years. 

What is the major benefit of a panic diary?

A panic attack diary can be one of the best resources for the process of recovery.

It is especially important if you are getting professional help. 

  • References

Star, K. (March, 2020). Panic Attack Diary for Tracking your Triggers. 

Psychologytools.com: “Panic Diary”

Longdom.org: “Panic Attacks”

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