Those who have experienced a panic attack would undeniably agree that it is not something that one would ever like to re-experience. Panic is very real, and when the whole experience is new and strange, it can be terrifying. When it’s one’s first panic attack, that appears to have ‘come out of nowhere’, it is even more frightening. This often leads to a hospital emergency room visit, having one think that something must be very wrong.
A panic attack reveals itself in a variety of physical and emotional symptoms.
- Sudden overwhelming fear, terror
- Racing or pounding heartbeat
- Sweating, sweaty palms
- Trembling, jumpiness, twitching muscles
- Shortness of breath
- Sense of choking
- Chest pain or ‘heaviness’ in the chest
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Numbness or tingling in the limbs or entire body
- Chills or hot flashes
- A feeling of being detached from the world (derealization)
What is happening to me?
After learning that there is no indication of any physical life-threatening condition, it may actually increase the anxiety, having one wondering what could be causing these awful feelings? If a person with panic goes undiagnosed, they may go on for years, searching for an explanation and having continued panic attacks with no relief or help. Even after learning that it was a panic attack, many people find it hard to believe that panic itself could be the cause of all these very physical symptoms.
Some people become so fearful of having another panic attack that they avoid any triggering places or situations. Though this may prevent some panic attacks in the short term, it will continue to limit and debilitate their lives.
Facts About Panic Attacks
Here are some facts about panic attacks that may help ease the fear of a panic attack.
- Panic is an extremely uncomfortable and scary experience but it is NOT DANGEROUS: it will NOT give you a heart attack, give you a stroke, stop you from breathing, choke you or make you lose control.
- You are still in control: The overwhelming urge to escape from panic feelings can make you believe that you could do something crazy to escape it. THIS IS JUST A THOUGHT.
- You will not go crazy: Panic produces a variety of odd sensations but it will not make you go crazy, lose your sanity, or never go back to normal.
- Panic will pass: The peak of a panic attack actually lasts less than a couple of minutes. Though you may still feel anxious after the peak passes, with the help of coping strategies and techniques the worst should not last long.
- Odd sensations don’t necessarily mean you are sick: It is common for people experiencing a panic attack to mistake any physical manifestation as signs of illness. The body can produce a variety of strange sensations and bodily sensations can come from a multitude of non-dangerous reasons.
- Panic is a TREATABLE problem.
So, don’t panic! It’s just panic, and panic disorders are treatable! The most common evidence-based interventions for those who experience panic are cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. Additionally, becoming more informed about panic is helpful in alleviating the fear of another panic attack.
If you want to learn more about Panic Disorder, and counseling services, call us at Specialized Therapy Associates (201) 488-6678 or visit specializedtherapy.com