Panic attacks are strange creatures.
They affect millions of people, at least once in their life.
What is a Panic Attack?
Simple. A panic attack is the fight or flight sequence going off at the wrong time. Let me explain. When you are met with a dilemma, like someone breaking into you car or threatening to harm you, your brain releases a surge of adrenaline so that you can fight or take flight. The adrenaline speeds up a lot of processes in your body, like heart rate and respiration. So, when you’re having a panic attack, it’s that system going off when there is no danger present. There is no need for it to go off, but it does, and all the appropriate things happen at an inappropriate time.
Panic attack symptoms can include:
- rapid heart rate
- shortness of breath
- hot flashes
- abdominal cramping
- chest pain
- tightness in your throat
- trouble swallowing
- sense of impending death
- tingling in your hands or feet
What are the effects of a panic attack?
Panic Attacks take a strong emotional toll. It makes us worry about the next one, or maybe feel shame about having them. I know that when I have an attack, I feel upset, shameful that I can’t control my anxiety or when I have an attack.
Since they can strike anywhere and any time, it might make people fear the next one, making them avoid certain situations to avoid the attacks. It could lead to more serious conditions like Agoraphobia, eating disorders, worsening depression, alcoholism…It could get worse.
Are they treatable?
Of course! There is always hope. Panic attack sufferers don’t have to just sit and wait for the next attack. If they feel one coming on, or even if they are just in the middle of the attack, trying breathing exercises can help. Stretching is said to create more self awareness. Then, there is medication. It helps, but most, I believe, takes up to 45 minutes to kick in. So if you’re suddenly in an attack, I’m not sure if medication is a quick fix. I usually take mine when my nerves are on edge, when I feel like I’m trying to crawl out of my own skin, or when my mind is racing so fast that I start to get dizzy and light headed. My heart starts racing, my breathing changes…
It’s ok. You’re not alone. Many people deal with anxiety on a daily basis. And guess what, you’re going to be ok.