Monday, September 04, 2006

Panic Attacks

What Is It Like To Have A Panic Attack?

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
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • 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.

Additional Facts:

  • 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.

21 comments:

Igor said...

Ok, here are several words for someone who may be suffering from a neurosis ( a panic attack is a manifestation of some neurosis) and stumbled upon this web page:

(1) YOU ARE NOT ALONE !

Too often neurosis sufferers think "it's all hopeless", "I am a useless looser", "there is no future for me", "I am a freak who cannot live normal life".

Too often they retreat into their internal shells, shutting off the world and life around them.

DON'T !!! You are not the only one with those simptoms. No matter how peculiar your particular neurosis is - there are A LOT of people with the same one !

Look up internet, find their stories, read them, see how they fight for their lives, maybe tell your own story.

(2) SEEK TREATMENT !

You may be ashamed to go out and see the doctor.... DON'T BE !

Just don't start with a psychoanalyst.

First, get your somatic symptoms under control - talk to your doctor and to a neurologist. Very-very often the somatic symptoms of your neurosis are the indication of an illness that's present in your body, but latent or too weak to show itself on it's own.

Please believe me: it is not difficult to control somatic symptoms of a neurosis.

(3) THERE IS A FUTURE FOR YOU !

True, one cannot get back to the pre-neurosis state.... so what ?!

There are NO absolutely healthy people around! Do you think that apollo/venus-like surfer is 100% healthy? Ha, you just won't want to know - s/he got the look, but s/he has her/his health problems, I am ready to bet what you want !

So, as after treatment, now you know how to control your neurosis - go out and get life! Well, you'd have to be a bit more cautious than you had been - but not much!

Bibi said...

Not fun. I had a mild panic attack once when I was way stressed over a bunch of things, and at an airport of all places. Fortunately I realized what was happening and ran outdoors, away from people etc, and did some yoga breathing. But what shocked me was how quickly it came on, and how little I could control it.
ps. found your blog from Kitotoe's.

Therapy Doc said...

I tell people that no one's ever died from a panic attack and that what goes up, must come down.

No matter how much adrenaline you're pumping, your noradrenaline (the hormone that slows you down) is bound to kick in eventually.

Wayne said...

I too used to have panic attacks. Very strong ones. Each time I was Positive I was having a heart attack! I some how eventually was able to convince myself during these, that I was NOT dying. They eventually got further apart, and now I'm happy to say I've not had one in years. Good luck to you.

Rach said...

I'm a little frightened that I have these symptoms. Not really sure what to do from here. :(

penguinsandladybugs said...

I have had one or two panic attacks and you feel "crazy"--the good doc gave me Xanax for these attacks and I use so few. Problem is hubby has them quite often and now my 12 year old seems to get them :(

Irishcoda said...

Hi, found this blog through one of your others. I've had panic attacks since I was 17. They may have been around all that time but I was never given a name for what was happening to me until 1983. What a relief to find out that it had a name! Before that, therapists told me I was experiencing a "fugue state" or a dissociative state. I've been on medication since and am stabilized at last.

Irishcoda said...

P.S. I meant to add, we sure have a lot of things in common!

Watson Adam said...

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Vicki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vicki said...

I started having panic attacks in 1980 when drs. didn't seem to know that it was a panic attack. I'd never heard the words panic attack before from friends or the media. I made quite a lot of ER visits thinking I was going to die. They would do an EKG etc. and say I was ok and send me home. I wish I had a dollor for every night I lay in bed, afraid to go to sleep because I was afraid I wouldn't wake up. Or how many times I did fall asleep only to wake up and be literally paralyzed. I knew if I could just move a finger or turn my head a little bit that I'd be ok, but the mental battle to move was terrible. How many times was I going about my day doing everyday things like watching tv and would feel it coming on. But at least then I could jump up and run to an empty room so I could do "mental battle" with myself and try to stop it before it hit me full force. The worst was when I would be driving. That would bring on the added fear of hurting someone else if I died at the wheel. I had these panic attacks for years. Almost daily. And mutiple times a day. It was a living hell. How in the world did I keep everyone around me from knowing what was going on? To them I seemed fine. I guess it was because I'd hide myself until it passed. I just wonder why they never questioned why I was always jumping up so quickly and exusing myself. I finally stopped having them thank God. And I disagree 100% with Igor's statement:
"True, one cannot get back to the pre-neurosis state", I AM back to my old self, even better than I was before. Because I know that if I could go through what I did while having panic attacks, I can handle anything. In a weird way they made me mentally stonger. My life is now so much more stressful than it has ever been, but it is also the most fulfilling. And I know that I am 100% well. And to those of you who are reading this and are having panic attacks, believe me when I say that you can lead a panic free life if you get the help you need.

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shopannies said...

thank you for sharing there may be those who have these and actually do not know what they are my husband has had these around 18 years now

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chicamom85 said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. You and I have much in common. I suffer from panic attacks and have had episodes of agoraphobia. At one point I couldn't leave my house for months. I am doing better now, but always live in fear of them. Have you ever visited hubpages.com. I have written a hub on the subject and there are several hubs pertaining.

Anne

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