When you’re in the middle of a panic attack, the most frightening thoughts go through your mind, “am I dying” or “am I losing my mind”. You feel there is no escape and there can be overwhelming feelings of panic and despair. Millions of people have these thoughts running through their heads while the physical symptoms make the panic attacks seem even worse.
Fight or Flight
Panic attacks strike out of the blue, you have a rush of adrenaline and your fight or flight instincts kick in despite the fact that there is no real danger to trigger such a response. People who suffer from panic attacks become extremely sensitive to the physical sensations that are taking place in the body during a panic attack.
How you perceive these symptoms can exacerbate the panic attack. If the physical symptoms bring about feelings of doom and fear you will release more adrenaline feeding into a vicious cycle. Here is a video outlining the symptoms of a panic attack.
What Happens During an Anxiety Attack?
- Rapid heart rate or palpitations
- Chest pain or tightness
- Light-headedness or faint
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty breathing
- Butterflies in your stomach
What causes an anxiety attack?
The physical symptoms that accompany a panic attack can easily lead you to believe that something more serious is happening, often anxiety symptoms are mistaken for heart attacks in patients. Thinking you’re having a heart attack is what drives you from anxiety to sheer panic. You’re so focused on the physical sensations that you don’t stop and think whether it is an anxiety attack or a legitimate heart attack. Chest pains and shortness of breath are symptoms of a heart attack so it’s a fairly easy leap to make while you’re in the middle of the panic attack.
It is not uncommon for people suffering from anxiety to find themselves in the emergency room. There is no physical danger around to justify the symptoms so the logical conclusion is that something must be seriously wrong with you. When you’re so focused on the physical sensations it makes your panic attacks worse. Each and every thought you have helps to compound the panic attack, releasing even more adrenaline into your body.
Learn your triggers
Recognizing the initial signs of a panic attack will help you learn to stave them off. A good start is recording when they happen, if you keep a record of your attacks you can start to identify what leads to a full blown attack. These are the triggers and learning your triggers will help you develop a coping strategy that can help you deal with mild anxiety and stop it from going into a full blown panic attack.