For someone who has never actually suffered panic attacks, they can not comprehend the fear and loss of control invoked by those who do suffer them. For those who suffer from them, life is often sent fearing the sunset of the next attack. For years, these were misunderstood and often dismissed as being a serious situation. Fortunately, through research and careful analysis, panic disorders have been identified as being a true mental health problem. Through understanding the problem, there have also been many advances made in helping sufferers minimize the frequency and severity of the case, learn how to cope during attacks, get control of the awareness, and even tell their panic attacks “Bye, bye!” This has given sufferers worldwide hope that they can live normal, happy lives!
It is important to understand the symptoms. The first attack or two a person sufferers can be so frightening that they are certain they have a physical health problem occurring, such as a heart attack or a stroke. Often, a sufferer will go to the emergency room or make an emergency appointment with their doctor seeking an explanation, only to find out that, physically, they are healthy. Having their concern dismissed can cause additional anxiety because they think that they are either crazy or fear that there is a serious undiagnosed problem occurring. Fortunately, more medical doctors are becoming aware of the reality of it and associated disorders, so they are able to suggest that as a possible cause.
A panic attack will typically include some of the following symptoms:
• Rapid heartbeat
• Irregular heartbeat
• Tightening of the chest
• Breathing difficulties
• Feelings of not getting enough oxygen
• Sweating / Clamminess
• Hot Flashes
• Tingling or numbness in your extremities
• Paralyzing fear of an unknown
• A feeling that you are having a nervous break or are on the brink of death
Please note that every person is different and may experience some of these symptoms or ones that are not listed. To understand panic disorders completely, you should talk to your mental health professional and seek more comprehensive information. These are all symptoms that can be associated with real and serious medical conditions. If you experience these symptoms and feel that you are surely having a panic attack, but they do not go away as you would expect them to during a typical panic attack, seek medical assistance immediately.
The causes are sometimes completely unknown as they seem to come out of the blue. They are often triggered by a stressful situation that, consciously, you have not considered as being particularly stressful. While a panic attack in itself is not a dangerous situation, but almost your body's response to a situation that it senses fear or danger, that initiating the sudden fight or flight response mechanism, it can be seriously terrifying. The recurrence or knowledge or the likelihood or recurrence can be especially debilitating.
Many people who suffer these attacks develop phobias, not because they actually fear situations or objects, but because they fear the panic attack that might occur because a mild internal anxiety had produced such an overwhelming effect on their bodies. Some people end up with such a strong fear of having panic attacks that they develop a social anxiety disorder which keeps them from being able to even venture out into society. These people often become literal prisoners in their own home, where simple trips to the grocery store are often too overwhelming for them. The isolation from society leaves them sad, depressed, and lonely. They miss weddings, birthdays of children and grandchildren, holiday celebrations, picnics, family vacations, and the very simple things in life, such as walking in the mall or going to the theater. They become misfits in society and have no idea how to escape.
There is hope.
If you or someone you love has any experience with suffering panic attacks, there are practical techniques and exercises that can be done that minimize the occurrence and effect. By learning these techniques, you will:
• learn how to write out your thoughts and feelings and determine the relationship between them and the onset of the attacks.
• understand the physiology of what is happening in your body, so that you can consciously address and gain control of the messages being sent to your body, so they will cease to be so physically severe.
• learn about the risks of developing substance abuse related to trying to gain control over them and find natural ways to alleviate the effects of panic attacks on your body and on your life.
• find ways to address negative messages in your brain and reprogram it with positive and true messages in order to erase and / or the panic attack triggers in your subconscious.
• be introduced to methods and explanations that the loved ones of panic attack sufferers can use to cope with the effects of the attacks on the family, friends, and co-workers.
There is so much that can be learned about and coping with them. Just relax, open your mind, and believe that you can once and for all tell the devastating effects of panic attacks, “Bye, bye!”