Panic Attacks And Panic Disorders
This article is about the one thing I’m sure everyone has either felt, dealt with or even suffered with at one time or another. It’s something that can come out of nowhere, it creeps up on you and takes hold and for some people it cannot be shaken off.
No I’m not talking about depression, I’m talking about the most powerful and feared feeling anyone can have, well depending on the person, this article is about panic. How it manifests in your body and mind, how it makes you feel, how it drives you, and simply what you can do to help control or just ignore it. This is not like the Harry Potter films, you can’t just wave a magic wand and shout out loud “redikulus” and your fear will disappear, in the real world sometimes your fear stays with you for life, other times you can conquer your fear on your own or sometimes with a lot of help.
I have suffered with panic and its attacks from as far back as I can remember. In this article I’m going to talk about some of my personal experiences and even some from other people with whom I have talked. There'll be some information I have researched on my own and some advice I was given not only from friends and family but also from doctors who I have and am still seeing because my panic attacks get so out of control that even they can see how stressful it can get and how upsetting this out of control feeling can be for me.
Since I was about the age of six I have, like many other people, seen others get sick, deal with their personal health issues and even gotten sick myself. When I was born my parents were told I had an immature wind pipe (OK so I don’t know the big words, but I’m making this easier for us all) so where was I, oh yeah when I was born my parents were basically told I may be prone to get throat infections and viruses a bit more than was usually common. And I did get a lot of viruses and infections, I remember getting the croupy cough and having sore throats most of my childhood (don’t worry I do have a point).
One year I got a very nasty yet common throat infection, it closed up my throat quite badly, so as I was coughing and struggling to breathe and this feeling came over me. It started as if someone was watching me, then escalated to fear. I had recently heard about my cousin being rushed to hospital because he couldn’t breathe... later we found out he had been diagnosed with asthma and it had been an attack that had gotten out of control. But back to the story, I thought about my cousin not being able to breathe, then I thought about what would happen to me if I couldn’t breathe, and let’s just say the panic came and I just thought I was going to die. Ever since then whenever I had a cough which moved down onto my chest of made my throat close up I’d freak out and panic.
I’d see my doctor who’d check me over and tell me if anything was wrong. My one doctor was very helpful, he’s the best, well to me at least, whenever I’ve been scared or worried when I’m not feeling well, he listens to the problem then explains things about how the body and mind work and has even printed off information sheets for me to read. Never has he looked at me like I was crazy or thought I was just overreacting. Recently I had done some research into panic and stumbled onto a site about panic attacks and more importantly a panic disorder.
I went to my doctor after finding it hard to breathe. I had had a lung infection the month before and before that I’d had a really bad case of tonsillitis so you can imagine I was panicky. I spoke about this disorder I’d read about and even discussed why I was so sure that’s what I had. My doctor agreed and referred me to a new doctor who is a physiotherapist at University Hospital of Wales (Heath Hospital) and after my first appointment with him I left the room feeling extremely content and in control, kind of like I could take on anything the world might throw at me.
So now I’m done with my little story let us move onto more details shall we?
The dictionary describes panic with the following definitions:
- Sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behaviour
- Widespread financial or commercial apprehension provoking hasty action
- A frenzied hurry to do something
The thesaurus uses several words for panic, here are a few that stick out of the group for me: right, terror, dread, fear, alarm, unnerve, fluster, disarray.
The below information I took from chapter one in Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies, I thought it would be very good information to use not only to show you what anxiety is but also little hints for people who want to overcome they anxiety and panic.
Do you have anxiety? Check your symptoms
Anxiety appears in different forms for different people. You may find that anxiety affects your thoughts, behaviours and feelings. Some of the more common symptoms are listed as follows.
You’re thinking anxiously if you’re...
- Making dire predictions about the future
- Thinking you can't cope
- Frequently worrying about pleasing people
- Thinking that you need to be perfect
- Having excessive concerns about not being in control
- Having difficulty concentrating
You’re feeling anxious if you have...
- Butterflies in your stomach
- Muscle tension
- A racing heart
- A shaky feeling
- Sweaty palms
You’re behaving anxiously if you’re...
- Avoiding many social events
- Leaving situations that make you anxious
- Never taking reasonable risks
- Staying away from feared objects or events, such as flying or spiders
Warning: the physical symptoms of anxiety may result from medical problems. If you have a number of these symptoms, please see a doctor for a check-up.
Three quick ways to reduce anxiety
- Engaging in 20 minutes of aerobic exercise
- Taking a walk with or without a friend
- Soaking in a warm bath
Dealing with your anxious thoughts. When your mind fills with worries and concerns, try asking yourself these questions:
- How will I look at this concern six months from now?
- Have I had this worry before only to discover that what I worried about never actually occurred?
- What evidence exists to either support or contradict my worry?
- If a friend of mine had this thought, what advice would I give?
- If the worst happens, could I find a way to cope with it?
Almost all people with severe anxiety experience a range of physical effects. These sensations don’t simple occur in your head; they’re as real as this article your reading. The responses to anxiety vary considerably from person to person include.
- Accelerated heart beat
- A spike in blood pressure
- Blurred vision
- Fatigue (Tiredness, or feeling drained)
- Feelings of unreality
- Gastrointestinal upset (Stomach Upset or pain)
- General aches and pains
- Muscle tension or spasms
These are simply the temporary effects that anxiety exerts on your body. Chronic anxiety left untreated can pose serious risks to your health.
We have three words to describe anxious behaviour: avoidance, avoidance and avoidance. Anxious people inevitably attempt to get away, and stay away, from things that make them anxious. Whether it’s snakes, heights, crowds, motorways, parties, paying the bills, reminders of bad times, or public speaking anxious people search for escape routes.
One of the most common and obvious examples of anxiety-induced avoidance is how people react to their phobias. Have you ever seen the response of a spider-phobic when confronting one of the beasties? Usually, the phobic beats a hasty retreat.
In the short run avoidance decreases anxiety. It can make you feel a little better. However, in the long run, avoidance actually maintains and heightens anxiety.
This concludes my article, I hope you enjoyed reading it and that it helped even if in the slightest way. If you're still unsure with panic attacks the best suggestion I can give is research some books to read at your local library or just go and talk to your local GP.