Try to explain to a man what being pregnant is like! Unless you have been there, it is difficult to understand. The person feels overwhelmed with terror, as the body reacts with symptoms such as heart palpitations, chest pain, breathing difficulties, shaking, sweating, nausea, faintness, numbness, and weakness. Often, the individual fears that he or she is having a heart attack, going "crazy" or "losing control".
Other symptoms might include:
- Sensation of choking
- Fear of dying
- Overwhelming sense of dread
It is not unusual for a person experiencing a panic attack to have five or more of these symptoms occur at the same time. Because these symptoms are feel so "real", the person in the midst of an attack often has diffculty deciphering that it IS a panic attack, and not a real threat or medical condition. Others are able to recognize the attack for what it is...and just try to *ride it out*.
Over a period of time these feelings can burden the body until insomnia, lack of concentration, pain, and other problems result. Too often people think the way to handle anxiety is to deny it, fight it, conquer it, or drug it. A more successful approach is to bring its source to the surface, look at it, understand it, and do something about it. Anxiety disorders occur when people turn their emotions inward.
An individual panic attack can be triggered by an obvious fear, but many times the fear is not so apparent, thus perpetuating the person's fear that they are "going crazy." A panic attack can occur in a store, at church or at work, watching a movie, driving, and even at home. There is no defined place or situation where panic attacks are more likely to occur, nor are there places or situations that would be always excluded.
What Causes Panic Attacks?
There are various ideas. Some feel it is genetics, others believe past environment - particularly the environment in which they grew up. Still others say a combination of the above, and there are those who say none of the above. --- Regardless of the cause, it is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Diabetes is a chemical imbalance and so are panic attacks. Chemically treating the imbalance alone, is not the answer, though. A combination of medication and counseling is needed.
- Panic attacks are not new. They were described in medical literature over 100 years ago.
- More women than men seem to develop them.
- People of any age have anxiety/panic attacks.
- Panic attacks can occur as often as several times a day, to as seldom as only once every year or so.
- In many cases, you cannot tell a person is having a panic attack.
- Panic attacks vary from instance to instance, and from person to person.