If you wonder if you ever had a panic attack, then you may not have had one. One thing is for sure, if you get one, you will never forget it.
A panic attack is your body reacting from unrelenting and very intense anxiety. It is a psychological phenomenon that scares the living heck out of you when you get it. If you have anxiety and some measure of depression or depressive feelings, then you have to get with a professional before you begin to get these attacks. If you have already had them, then you know what I am talking about.
Sufferers of panic attacks often report a fear of dying or heart attack, flashing vision, faintness or nausea, numbness throughout the body, heavy breathing and hyperventilation, or loss of bodily control. Some people also suffer from tunnel vision, mostly due to blood flow leaving the head to more critical parts of the body in defense. These feelings may provoke a strong urge to escape or flee the place where the attack began (a consequence of the “fight-or-flight response”, in which the hormone causing this response is released in significant amounts). This response floods the body with hormones, particularly epinephrine (adrenaline), which aid it in defending against harm. Sounds like fun, right?
No, not by any stretch of the imagination is it fun. Some people even believe that the attack will not go away and they will remain “crazy.” Ironically, sometime the panic attack itself will cause more panic attacks due to the fear of getting them.
Sometimes these are caused by a genetic defect that leaves your brain wanting serotonin. If this is the case, your psychiatrist will help you balance the chemicals in your brain, but therapy is also indicated in these situations.
The good news is that you are not going crazy, your body and your mind are just kicking up a huge fuss because they don’t like the condition that your thinking and mental state is in. They don’t like it that it has carried on for a long time and your mind can’t fix it.
So, how do we help ourselves or others when a panic attack occurs?
Remember that the worse that can happen is that you will pass out. That is the most severe reaction you can have. You are not crazy, and reassurance that you are okay is the best medicine.
Try and relax and take very slow, deep, and deliberate breaths. This will slow down your respiration and you can begin to get control. Sometimes using a paper bag to slow your breathing works.
The thoughts that you are having are not true. You will come out of it, you will not die, you are not having a heart attack, it is just a panic attack.
If you are helping someone who is having an attack, you should reassure them that they are good people, they are loved, they are okay and that you will be with them throughout the episode.
It is very scary and very intense, but it is also very manageable. Go see a professional to either get therapy, meds, or preferably both.
Don’t be afraid, don’t lose hope, you will get over these and you will be better!
Need a one-on-one with Lou?
Go to www.lifecarecounseling.net and schedule an online therapy session.