It’s Panic Day.
It really is. And I told my husband I’d forgotten to schedule a post for it, and he did a quick, sharp intake of breath, and looked all concerned. Piss taking bugger.
But the point of Panic Day is to recognise how bad it is for us, and that stress can knock years off your life; it’s a genuine reason to practice self care, and generally being a bit nicer to ourselves. In a world where we are constantly available and switched on, this seems impossible, but I’ve just had a radical idea. Put your phone down, in another room, and ignore it. You’ll be fine. *twitch*
Honest, you will. I may have mentioned before, there was only one phone in our house when I was a teenager; it was wired into the wall, it had a receiver you had to pick up and a rotary dial, and you were NEVER ALLOWED TO USE IT. It’s a different world. Ermahgerd.
Anyway I’m digressing a bit here. Panic. Panic attacks.
What ARE Panic Attacks?
Panic attacks are short episodes of overwhelming fear or anxiety. The intensity of a panic attack goes way beyond that of “normal” anxiety, and can include a variety of physical symptoms.
During panic attacks, people often fear that they are having a heart attack, will pass out, they cannot breathe, or they are dying. *clutches pearls*
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
Some or all of the following:
- Pounding or racing heart
- Trembling or shaking
- Fear of “going mad”
- Feeling of being detached from reality
- Breathing difficulties
- Sense of terror, or impending doom or death
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Fear of dying
Panic Attack Facts
Panic attacks may feel scary AF, but they don’t cause physical harm. The most common fears associated with panic attacks (having a heart attack or fainting) are not actually a threat. Pinky promise.
Your blood pressure does not drop during a panic attack, and this would need to happen for you to faint.
Panic attacks are usually brief but intense. The symptoms of panic typically peak within 10 minutes, and end within 30 minutes. However, some lingering symptoms can last over an hour.
However, they certainly can feel as though they last longer, so having a clock or watch in sight is useful.
Panic attacks can seem to occur randomly, or they can be closely linked to a specific source of anxiety such as driving, crowded places, or simply leaving home. Triggers are wide and varied but can be managed.
Panic disorder occurs when a person has frequent worry or fear of future panic attacks, or when they change their behaviour in to avoid attacks (such as avoiding a feared situation).
Let’s go into this a bit further.
Questions you may be asking yourself
Q – Is Panic Disorder an illness?
A – No. In order for it to be a recognised mental illness, it needs to appear in the DSM-v5. There is currently no established condition as Panic Disorder; it simply means that a sufferer experiences frequent panic attacks, voluntary and involuntary, and regularly enough to impair quality of life. However, it’s not something to be “cured” of, and with the right mindset and my help you can fix them yourself.
Q – If I’m having a panic attack, why can’t I remember what I’ve been told to be able to cope?
A – There are a couple of reasons for this. The biggest is a lack of practice in coping strategies that WORK FOR YOU. This is why individual sessions are important, to teach you to cope so that you can practice and override your original automatic response. Remember, the panic alarm is one in a faulty system. Secondly, you can’t think and feel at the same time, because it’s impossible to be rational and emotional all at once. However, you recognise the emotion, and when you can name it your new habits will begin to kick in. Then you can consciously use your coping techniques and keep taming that automatic response.
Q – Am I going mad and losing control?
A – No. This is psychosis that you’ve described, whereas anxiety is a neurosis; the two do not cross over into each other’s territory.
Q – What IS anxiety?
A – Anxiety is a fear of being afraid of something. Examples include social situations, people, death or health related anxieties, such as choking or general fear of illness. These are specific to you and you may have more than one cause to your anxiety. This can also be generalised anxiety with you have the fear of being afraid or something that is not immediately defined or obvious to you; this often tends to be the type of anxiety that people find most upsetting as there seems to be no reason for it.
Q – Will a panic attack kill me?
A – NO, and NO AGAIN. This is so important for you to understand. No one has ever died from a panic attack, because the mechanisms required to cause you to stop breathing are just not there. The feelings you get are as a result of the rush of hormones that prepare you for the fight, flight or freeze response, and they are there to protect you, and not to harm you. They just feel very uncomfortable, but being confronted by a stressor isn’t meant to be cosy; we have to square up and deal with it, get out of dodge, or pretend to be a statue and hope for the best.
Q – Can a panic attack feel like a heart attack?
A – There are some similarities in symptoms, and it will always be appropriate for you to attend the accident and emergency/emergency room at your nearest hospital if you feel a sudden, severe chest pain. Be on the safe side, always, please.
Q – What is a phobia?
A – A phobia is a persistent, seemingly irrational and persistent fear of a thing, situation, activity, etc. It can cause us to go to great lengths to avoid encountering a situation that could potentially cause us fear, and to have a panic attack. The thing causing the fear is not really the problem, the fear of the fear is.
OK, I hope that’s helped clear up a few misconceptions for you. Remember you can always contact me for a free consultation, and then take it from there.
Till then…..don’t panic……