Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Panic Attacks Myths Debunked

There are many myths surrounding panic attacks which can lead people along the wrong track. Here, we'll debunk two of these panic attack myths so that you are more able to deal with your situation without fear. In fact, once you start to think more positively about your general anxiety and it's associated attacks you'll be better placed to start to take control of your life again.

Myth #1 - Panic Attack Sufferers Have A Heart Disorder

Although a sufferer may indeed have a heart disorder for any number of reasons, it isn't as a direct result of suffering from panic attacks. Rather, during an attack, the symptoms are such that the sufferer actually 'feels' as though they are having a heart attack.

Some of the symptoms of a panic / anxiety attack -- tightness across chest, rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, sweating, tingling fingers, etc. -- are similar to those of a heart attack, and so the sufferer can be forgiven for believing that they are having one. But they aren't.

The symptoms of a panic or anxiety attack are due to your body's primeval response to a perceived 'danger' so that it sets you up mentally and physically to be able to fight or run away; what we call your body's 'fight or flight' response.

To your subconscious mind, a simple thing like a spike of very high anxiety can be perceived as a 'danger' sign, so it very quickly resorts to a fight or flight response. It doesn't take time to figure out if there is indeed physical danger present, it just assumes there is, as this quite naturally is the safest assumption in order to protect you.

In a fight or fight response there are almost instantaneous changes in your mind and around your body. But, you are unaware of any 'danger' (because there isn't any), so these changes are confusing to you. The result is that the total effect of the changes appear as the symptoms of a panic / anxiety attack, which is often confused with having a heart attack.

Myth #2 - People Who Suffer From Anxiety and Panic Attacks Are Nuts

Absolutely not! There is no doubt that we can say that the symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks are so frightening that they 'drive one crazy' but of course we don't mean that literally. It's just that the symptoms of an attack, incl. nausea, stomach cramps, hyperventilation, dizziness, a feeling of being detached from reality, as well as those shown above, are indeed terrifying.

So if you suffer from anxiety and anxiety / panic attacks you are not crazy, loco, off you head, nuts, mental, loopy, or any other term you care to mention. You are quite sane, just scared of having another attack. And who can blame you? Not anyone who has ever suffered an attack, that's for sure.

Now here's the key; that very fear of another attack is the thing that is stopping you getting to grips with your anxiety and preventing further attacks...

You see, the fear -- which can be a conscious or unconscious fear -- builds your already higher-than-normal anxiety levels even higher. This on its own, or, in conjunction with an everyday stressful event, can push your overall anxiety so high that your unconscious mind perceives this as a dangerous situation that requires a 'fight or flight' response. The result? You've guessed it -- another panic attack!

You need to break this vicious cycle -- anxiety > panic attack > fear > increased anxiety > panic attack > fear > increased anxiety > panic attack > fear, etc., etc. -- in order to prevent panic attacks and cure your general anxiety.

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