If you suffer from…
* a pounding heart, or an accelerated heart rate
* Trembling or shaking
* Shortness of breath
* A choking sensation
* Chest pain or discomfort
* Nausea or stomach cramps
* Derealization (a feeling of unreality)
* Fear of losing control or going crazy
* Fear of dying Numbness or a tingling sensation
* Chills or hot flashes
(Source: American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) 2000 Washington, DC.)
…then you’ve experienced firsthand some of the possible symptoms of a panic or anxiety attack. If you are reading this page because a loved one suffers from these symptoms and you are trying to understand or help, it’s hard to appreciate what they go through.
Just try to imagine what it feels like to experience one, if you can.
Here is a typical example:
Standing in a supermarket queue, it’s been a long wait but only one customer to go before you make it to the cashier. Wait, what was that sensation? An unpleasant feeling forms in your throat, your chest feels tighter, now a sudden shortness of breath, and what do you know—your heart skips a beat. “Please, God, not here.”
A quick scan of the territory—is it threatening? Four unfriendly faces queue behind, one person in front. Pins and needles seem to prick you through your left arm, you feel slightly dizzy, and then the explosion of fear as you dread the worst. You are about to have a panic attack.
There is no doubt in your mind now that this is going to be a big one. Okay, focus: Remember what you have been taught, and it is time now to apply the coping techniques. Begin the deep breathing exercise your doctor recommended. In through the nose, out through the mouth.
Think relaxing thoughts, and again, while breathing in, think “Relax,” and then breathe out. But it doesn’t seem to be having any positive effect; in fact, just concentrating on breathing is making you feel self-conscious and more uptight.
Okay, coping technique 2:
Gradual muscle relaxation. Tense both shoulders, hold for 10 seconds, then release. Try it again. No; still no difference. The anxiety is getting worse and the very fact that you are out of coping techniques worsens your panic. If only you were surrounded by your family, or a close friend were beside you so you could feel more confident in dealing with this situation.
Now, the adrenaline is really pumping through your system, your body is tingling with uncomfortable sensations, and now the dreaded feeling of losing complete control engulfs your emotions. No one around you has any idea of the sheer terror you are experiencing. For them, it’s just a regular day and another frustratingly slow queue in the supermarket.
You are out of options. Time for Plan C.
The most basic coping skill of all is “fleeing.” Excuse yourself from the queue; you are slightly embarrassed as it is now that it is your turn to pay. The cashier is looking bewildered as you leave your shopping behind and stroll towards the door. There is no time for excuses—you need to be alone. You leave the supermarket and get into your car to ride it out alone. Could this be the big one? The one you fear will push you over the edge mentally and physically. Ten minutes later the panic subsides.
It’s 10:30 a.m. How are you going to make it through the rest of the day?
If you suffer from panic or anxiety attacks, the above scenerio probably sounds very familiar. It may have even induced feelings of anxiety and panic just reading it. The particular situations that trigger your panic and anxiety may differ; maybe the bodily sensations are a little different. Or maybe it happened to you for the first time on a plane, in the dentist chair, or even at home, while doing nothing in particular.
If you have ever had what has become known as a “panic attack,” take comfort in the fact that you are by no means alone.
A panic attack always comes with the acute sense of impending doom. You feel you are either about to lose your mind or one of your vital bodily functions is about to cease functioning and you will end your days right there among the canned goods and frozen food.
You are by no means alone; you’re not even one in a million. In America, it is estimated that almost 5% of the population suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. For some, it may be the infrequent panic attacks that only crop up in particular situations-like when having to speak in front of others, while, for other people, it can be so frequent and recurring that it inhibits them from leaving their home. Frequent panic attacks often develop into what medical physicians refer to as an “anxiety disorder.”
One of the first steps to regaining control of your life is getting helpful information. This site will give you that, and more.
The beginning of your recovery starts here. What you will learn is that there is a very good chance you are about to end the cycle of panic attacks in your life. You will learn not only to regain the carefree life you remember once having, but will also gain new confidence in living. Your answer to living free from “panic” or “anxiety attacks” is at hand.
This site demonstrates that the panic and anxiety that you have experienced will be the very key to your courage and success.
Begin the road to recovery by browsing through the site. While many of you may have read almost everything you can possibly read relating to panic and anxiety I assure you this site offers something very effective.
Did you know…?
The key difference between someone who is cured of panic attacks and those who are not is really very simple. The people who are cured no longer fear panic attacks. I’ll try to show you how to be one of these people as well.
What if I told you the trick to ending panic and anxiety attacks is to want to have one. That sounds strange, even contradictory, but let me explain.
The trick to panic attacks is wanting to have one-the wanting pushes it away. Can you have a panic attack in this very second? No!
You know the saying that “what you resist, persists.” Well that saying applies perfectly to fear. If you resist a situation out of fear, the fear around that issue will persist. How do you stop resisting–you move directly into it, into the path of the anxiety, and by doing so it cannot persist.
In essence what this means is that if you daily voluntarily seek to have a panic attack, you cannot have one. Try in this very moment to have a panic attack and I will guarantee you cannot. You may not realize it but you have always decided to panic. You make the choice by saying this is beyond my control.
Another way to appreciate this is to imagine having a panic attack as like standing on a cliff’s edge. The anxiety seemingly pushes you closer to falling over the edge.
To be rid of the fear you must metaphorically jump. You must jump off the cliff edge and into the anxiety and fear and all the things that you fear most.
How do you jump? You jump by wanting to have a panic attack. You go about your day asking for anxiety and panic attacks to appear.
Your real safety is the fact that a panic attack will never harm you. That is medical fact. You are safe, the sensations are wild but no harm will come to you. Your heart is racing but no harm will come to you. The jump becomes nothing more than a two foot drop! Perfectly safe.
Barry McDonagh is an international panic disorder coach. His informative site on all issues related to panic and anxiety attacks can be found here: PanicPortal