Don’t Panic! The Facts About Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are very uncomfortable but they are not as dangerous as you think.

While panic may be one of the most fearful and dreadful experiences you ever had, it doesn’t mean that having panic attacks will cause a heart attack, give you a stroke, stop you from breathing, choke you, make you loose control or make you go crazy. These fears can often perpetuate the panic cycle.

Panic attacks will not make you faint.

While you faint for a variety of reasons that may have nothing to do with panic attacks, (heat, exhaustion, dehydration, poor nutrition, etc.) panic is not likely to make you faint. When you faint your blood pressure must go down, when you’re having a panic attack your blood pressure is going up, not down. Although there are some people that may faint during the course of a panic attack, it is very rare. This risk seems to be linked to people who faint at the sight of blood or when getting a needle. If this hasn’t happened to you, then its pretty unlikely that you’ll faint from a panic attack

You are still in control even when you feel out of control

The urge to escape from panic feelings can be so strong that you may believe that you should do something to escape it. For example, you might try to leave the situation in a hurry. It may also feel as if you are out of balance, disoriented, and falling, this too is highly unlikely. People can and do function through panic attacks doing a variety of day to day activities. Although you can probably do all these activities safely, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

You will not go crazy because of a panic attack

While panic attacks may produce a variety of strange sensations (disorientation, not feeling like things are real, hyperventilation, overwhelming urges to escape, etc.) it will NOT make you -“go crazy, loose your sanity or never go back to normal”.

Panic attacks will pass (they always do)

Most panic attacks actually last less than a couple of minutes. While you might still feel general anxiety or fatigue after the peak of the panic attack passes, with the help of some paced breathing and rational thinking, the peak itself should not last long. You can get past a panic attack and relatively comfortable again WITHOUT ESCAPING the situation. Stop and sit down, lean on a wall, find a quieter spot and focus on your paced breathing, then try to refocus on distractions and go on.

Odd sensations don’t necessarily mean you are sick; good health doesn’t mean perfect health.

The body can produce a variety of strange sensations especially after periods of stress. Non- dangerous sensations can come from hundreds of things; temperature changes, changes in lighting, spicy foods, gas, not eating, caffeine, colds/flu, muscle strains, fatigue and of course stress. You don’t have to keep track of every odd sensation, most of them will come and go without having to explain them or treat them. Treat yourself with care mentally and physically, learn ways to decrease stress and if some unexplained sensation persists for weeks then speak to your doctor.

Many panic attacks do not have to happen

You can avoid many panic attacks if you can learn to change the way you think. Anticipating your anxiety, or worrying that you will become anxious can lead to panic attacks by focusing too much on the future (what ifs), focusing too much on the body (sensations) and then exaggerating how immediately dangerous it all is. Stay in the present and believe in your ability to cope.

Most people are not against you

Of course, you cannot always count on the friendliness of friends and strangers, but at worst you are no more than a phone call away from another person. Sometimes if you simply start talking to people to distract yourself, or tell them your are ill or anxious, many people will take a minute to talk or help…if you tell them how they can help. Stop trying so hard to hide your symptoms, it will only isolate you.

Panic Disorder is a treatable problem

Don’t let pessimism and helplessness take over. Nearly 25% of the population will experience an anxiety disorder in the course of their lives. With treatment and a commitment to not settling for a disabled lifestyle, they go on to live happy and productive personal and professional lives. Keep fighting the urge to escape and avoid and learn to think realistically and confidently about your ability to cope.


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