The only solution to your panic attacks is to attack them first! You have the power to do that because YOU EXIST! Your panic attacks do not exist in reality! They are product-thoughts of your mind, thus they cac’t hurt you physically. Be logical…How is it possible to be afraid of something that doesn’t exist? The Cognitive behavioral therapy and the knowledge on psychology and brain function are your best weapons.
- Pounding heart
- sweated palms
- trembling or shaking
- sensation of shortening breath
- hyperventilation (breathing too fast)
- fall into a faint
- chills or heat sensations
- chest pain
- fear of dying
- fear of going crazy
If you experienced some of the above physical symptoms, you had a panic attack! Congratulations! You entered the club of approximately 83 million people who deal with panic attacks worldwide! This is double the number of poker players! So, it’s time to stop feeling ashamed about it because as you see your situation is not unique! Even if you believe that this panic-monster knocked on your door to scare you to death, the truth is that in the modern world we live in more and more people are experiencing stress disorders. Thankfully, your answer to the question “did someone die of a panic attack?” is NO! Panic attacks feel dangerous but, unless you suffer from a very serious heart condition, they cause zero deaths. Think about it a little bit…if panic attacks could kill, then the half population of the planet would have kicked the bucket!
Your panic attacks are nothing more than ‘product-thoughts’ of your mind. They don’t exist for real. They don’t have the power to hurt you as long as you control your thoughts!
Panic attacks are nothing more than distorted thoughts
Panic attacks come in the form of an intensive wave of fear which hits you out of the blue. So that is seems superficially. The true problem, however, lies deeper in the way your brain receives , processes and stores information based on your personal experiences in life. If you are under pressure or have unsolved issues, any external stimuli can make you brainstorming an avalanche of negative-almost catastrophic- thoughts in a matter of seconds. The startling thing here is that the chances of your catastrophic thoughts to become true is literally 1 out of 10 million! This stimuli may be a twisted information from your external environment that your brain has not processed correctly (i’ll run out of oxygen if i get stuck in the elevator), a constant source of stress that you can avoid (i hate my job i don’t want to go back there but i have to) or, a traumatic event that has been stored in your memory and left there unresolved (i don’t want to get married because my parents took divorce when i was two;the same thing will happen to me!).
That’s the problem with the stress disorders. We jump into conclusions without having any strong proof that something bad is going to happen to us. Nobody can foretell the future! Never believe to anyone tell you otherwise! Stay calm and try to be in touch with reality. Looking straight at your problems will help you a great deal! Avoiding to face your problems will bring you more problems! If the issue which causes you the panic attack doesn’t resolve soon, it will lead to repeated panic attacks which, in turn, will lead to other stress disorders such as agoraphobia, eating disorders or – even worse – anticipatory anxiety. In my view, this is the point you must avoid at any cost! In plain language, anticipated anxiety is the phase in which you restrict or stop entirely your habits, you lock yourself in the house because you’re afraid of having another panic attack in a public place. If you end up to the point of anticipated anxiety, you will end up to fear the fear itself! Don’t wait until fear being part of you. Act fast. Attack your panic first before it has the time to attack you.
Statistics on Panic Disorders Globally
- 83 million people worldwide suffer from panic attacks
- 70% of people who suffer from panic attacks also suffer from other psychological or psychiatric condition
- 40% of them show depression
- 1:3 people with panic attacks express agoraphobia
- 1 million Americans experience panic attacks each month!
- 3 million Americans will suffer from panic disorder at some point int their lives
- 27% of Europeans has experienced at least one panic attack (population ~ 742.511.650)
- 22.7% of Americans had at least one panic attack in the previous year (population ~326.217.454)
- the average age onset of panic disorders is 24 years
- 72% are women and 28% men
- 42% takes tranquilizers
- panic attacks may occur to older people even at the age of 65 years
sources: Psychology Today, World Health Organization for Europe, Worldometers
What happens in your brain when you have a panic attack
Knowing your brain response during a panic attack helps you tremendously to recognize and control your reactions and thoughts the next time panic comes back. This along with the cognitive behavioral therapy will lead you gradually to attack to your panic attack before this gain momentum towards you.
We have two nervous systems: the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is responsible for the ‘rest and digest’ response of our bodies when we are calm and, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is responsible for activating our susvival mechanism, the ‘fight or flight’ response. Now, deep in our heads, there are two very important areas: the hypothalamus, which is the brain command center and, the amygdala which play the primary role to the memory process, decision-making and emotional responses.
For every negative thought you make you raise your stress levels and that cause your amygdala to ‘over-respond’ and send distress signals to your hypothalamus. Your hypothalamus activates the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism of your sympathetic nervous system by sending signals to your adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands respond to these stress signals by pumping into your bloodstream adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine, also known as the ‘stress hormones’. And this is where you start having all the symptoms of a panic attack. These hormones start flowing into your tissues and organs causing contractions, giving you the sensation of pain, blurring your vision, stopping your logical thinking, upsetting your stomach, etc. Some people fall into faint, some others through up, some others breath fast and so on. The symptoms rarely exceed the 10 minutes in duration – but you have felt it like a year, i know! – thanks to your parasympathetic nervous system which takes charge to calm you down. This is your panic attack scientifically explained. (source: Harvard Medical School)
- You are not dying during a panic attack. It is just the circulation of the stress hormones in your bloodtream that makes you feel this way. Once the levels of these hormones decrease you’re ‘back in life’ again.
- the reason why our sympathetic nervous system reacts rather ‘slowly’ to calm us down is because our body defense mechanisms work so fast that not even our brain visual centers have the time to process what’s happening. This is what keeps us in life when our bodies sense an immenent danger. If you go for a walk in the woods and see a coiled snake in front of you, you’ll jump backwards whithout having think of it first! So, stop blaiming your ‘fight or flight’ response because without it, you wouldn’t be alive.
- The amygdala are two almon-shaped nuclei which are deep in the center of our heads, one on the right and one on the left. They control the memory process, decision-making and emotional responses. Imagine them like two doors open to logic. Every time you are stressed, these doors close and you can’t remember easily, you are confused about what to do, you have emotional breakdowns. Does it make any sense now, why you failed on those exams or why you always forget doing things or you feel your mind being ‘blocked’ when you are under stress?
If you suffer from panic attacks you may believe that your life has been ruined forever and you’ll always be sad and depressed. I have good news. There are plenty of things you can do to deal with panic attacks and other stress disorders.
Get to know yourself better! Go for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Feel your emotions and analyze them with logic to see where they come from and what makes them to flare up. Listen to your thoughts and approach them with logic; do they make any sense? In most cases it is difficult to track down emotions and thoughts. For that reason write them down! Put a pen on a paper, make columns (thoughts – emotions – worst case scenario – reality – best solution ). Write the first scary thought it comes to your mind and track down its path. This is the first thing you’ll learn to do in cognitive behavioral therapy, and trust me it does wonders!
Read, read, read! Knowledge is power! The more you know about the problem you face the better you deal with it. Reading about anxiety, psychology, panic disorders and brain functionality will give you a clear explanation to the things you couldn’t understand before. Knowing what about you are dealing with will lower the anxiety levels a great deal. Buy a book on psychology and another one on cognitive behavioral therapy and start educating yourself today!
Stop smoking, alcohol and caffeine. I know! You wake up in the morning and stumble all around the place until you have some coffee. Absolutely normal BUT more than one coffee during a day increases not only the caffeine in your blood but also your anxiety! So, take it easy with coffee. As for alcohol and smoking the things are pretty clear…both of them not only maintain the anxiety levels in the sky but they also aggravate the emotions connected to panic attacks and bluring the logical thinking.
Sleep well, exercise regularly and drink lots of water! Sleep is the best medicine for many illnesses. While you’re sleeping you give your brain the ability to process all the necessary info you gathered in the day and discard the useless. Exercising helps your body to release all the intense energy that is stored in you due to your emotions and, drinking lots of water sends your brain more oxygen helping it to work more efficient.
Visit a psychiatrist. I put this as the last solution and not as the first one, because in most cases the above steps solve the problems connected to anxiety. Nevertheless, if you think that you have lost completely the control or you deal with suicide thoughts i strongly suggest that you ask immediately for help. If you have reached this point you don’t deal with a simple anxiety anymore but with extreme mental disorder. Even as such, your situation is completely reversable. The only thing you need to do is to speak to a trusted person and visit together a psychiatrist, who will prescribe you the appropriate medication for you.
Keep in mind that medication alone doesn’t resolve any problem! Medicines only alleviate patients temporarily and in some cases they lead to addictions. This is why when patients stop medication the anxiety symptoms come back. If you want to get rid of the anxiety problems for good you need to eradicate the root of them.
Don’t wait for your panic attacks to recede immediately. Your stress disorder has been built in you for a long time before it attacks you. Start cognitive behavioral therapy and give your brain the time to process the new data correctly. Don’t worry! Everything is going to be ok with you as it does with millions of people who have the same problem.
Don’t wait until fear become part of you. Train your mind to substitude every negative thought with three positive ones. When this ordeal will have at last ended you will be stronger than ever before. Attack your panic attacks and get your life back!