I'm having a panic attack so it must be real - or is it?
Let me start by saying I sympathise with chronic panic attack sufferers and I do not wish to offend you in any way. I have suffered to some degree myself, albeit for only a small period of time in my life.
When you are having an attack, nobody else or what they say matters because it is you who is experiencing it and you are convinced of the worst - right?
Here are some of the more common mis-beliefs associated with this condition.
"I'm going to die from suffocation"
You may well feel like you are suffocating, but you will more than likely be breathing fast during your attack, so the reality is you are taking in plenty of air. Myth busted!
"I'm having a heart attack"
If you are really worried about this, then of course see your doctor. Often the symptoms associated with a heart attack are very similar to those experienced by a panic attack. It is only by learning to recognise the difference you can take control.
"I'm having a stroke"
When your body is making you feel totally out of control and you are experiencing symptoms that are unnatural to you, then you may well believe you are having a stroke. It is more a case of report your symptoms to a doctor and let him/her reassure you that you are fine.
"I'm going mad"
Think about this one rationally for a minute or so. If you were truly going mad, you wouldn't really care anyway - would you? I don't mean any harm by that, but I imagine if you were losing your mind it would be a gradual slide towards insanity and caring less anyway.
"I think I am going to pass out"
If you are in the fight or flight mode, then fainting or passing out does not seem an option, and if you are wrong so what? Passing out would put an instant end to the panic attack because you would not be in control anymore anyway.
Often you will be hyperventilating during a panic attack so you will very likely feel very dizzy. It's this dizziness that your brain will use to convince you that you are going to pass out or faint
"I've lost control"
You think you have lost control because the sub-conscious part of your mind has taken over your though control temporarily and you feel detached from what's happening. Therefore you fee out of control
"I'm going to be so embarrassed by this"
Nobody likes to look daft or stupid, especially when we believe that it's of our own making. Naturally we tell ourselves that we are going to be humiliated and cause embarrassment to our self and others around.
When you look back after a panic attack, was it so bad? Did you do what you had convinced yourself you would - probably not?
In reality the worst part of a panic attack will be over in a few short moments. The associated feeling with an attack may last longer as you try to analyse it.
Having a good book or guide with you can be a tremendous help in a panic attack situation. You could dive into it if you feel an attack bubbling away and even after one to help you focus again on what is true. In all things associated with the symptoms of this piece, if you are unsure about your health, seek medical advice always.