When Panic takes over the body

Stress is affecting people in big ways along with anxiety in our world. We see it manifest in business, at home, on the streets and in everyday communications face to face along with social media. We hear about it on Facebook as we watch comments and posts of how folks are doing, how they are or are not coping in day to day activities. We hear it and watch it in others played out from their exposure to the news, the media, the causes they support or passionately oppose.
Those who suffer from anxiety, those who suffer from panic attacks feel it in their body and it takes a tremendous toll. Some of the strongest and most wonderful people you will ever meet may suffer from one thing that sweeps them into panic attacks. There are those who have phobias of one type or another; we have heard of those who have phobias of spiders, of closed spaces, of social situations, of “white coats”, where blood pressures sky rocket, those who fear dentists and just cannot get through the door.  Yet those same people would face anything else, could do anything else that would leave the rest of us standing amazed at their courage, their strength, their zest for life. It is hard to imagine that the same person who could stare down a 9MM and face a would be robber with nerves of steel could fall apart at the thought of a doctor or a dentist, yet it happens everyday. It is fear, it is panic. It stems from the brain and affects the body, and it drains the system during and afterward as the neurotransmitters are firing and the body is being taxed, the heart pumping, the blood pressure rising, the muscles tensing and the system being taxed with fear and the need to run present.

  Rational thought is out the window during those times for the most part, as a person is in the grips of fear and panic. They try desperately to tell others that they “just can’t do this“, often try to tell whoever is the source of the panic, that “they just cannot hear more, do more”, and need to flee what feels threatening to them.
These times of fear that trigger panic attack are indeed sudden episodes of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Many who know of someone’s fear will often try in vane to “talk them out of it, to diminish it” and to ask rather stupid questions as the person who is standing in such fear is in such pain. I do believe the most stupid question I have ever heard asked as a person was in the middle of crisis has been“did something awful happen to you as a child?With the second most stupid statement being, “just get over it and take a breath only followed by #3 of “you are the worst one to have this phobia I have ever seen”… wow that is really helpful isn’t it?
 Panic attacks can be very frightening to the person experiencing them along with those who witness them. As the person who is gasping to breathe, thinking that at any moment their heart is going to explode in their chest and that will be a relief to the pain they are currently experiencing as they are being asked a myriad of stupid questions followed up by statements by often the helping professions that at this point are not making any sense as their neurotransmitters are not capable of recieving more than panic and fear. 
 When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.Many are capable of recognizing panic attacks as they are occurring as just that PANIC/FEAR yet cannot change their state at that moment, and their body is already feeling the effects of what is happening, their mind already sending the command FEAR FEAR RUN RUN, the heart is already pumping much faster than it should be and the blood pressure is as though they had climbed MT Everest.
Many people have just one or two panic attacks in their lifetimes, and the problem goes away, perhaps when a stressful situation ends. Yet those with known phobias, of doctors, dentists often know that they will go into fear mode, some cannot even go to those dental or office buildings as the smell, triggers the attack. Many have to be sedated prior to visits, some never visit dentists secondary to the fears. Others know that is the trigger and try to seek help for it, yet still are a bundle of nerves when having to confront those things or places that are triggers.  It is horrible to witness, but much worse for the person who has to live through it, as after the perceived threat is over, a person is exhausted. They report that they feel as though a bus has run havoc through their body, physically, emotionally, and find that it is similar to an adrenalin surge that leaves them weak. Phobias are horrible for people who have identified them, for those who have tried and tried to de-sensitize themselves to them and not been completely successful. Phobias and panic attacks can at times join each other in seconds; yet phobias can best be explained:

  • A feeling of uncontrollable anxiety when you’re exposed to the source of your fear — sitting on an airplane, for instance, or walking into a large party
  • The feeling that you must do everything possible to avoid what you fear
  • The inability to function normally because of your anxiety
  • Often, the knowledge that your fears are unreasonable or exaggerated, but feeling powerless to control them
  • Physical as well as psychological reactions, including sweating, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, a feeling of panic and intense anxiety
  • In some cases, anxiety just thinking about what you fear

  It is the anxiety of “just thinking about what you fear” that astonishes some people as they cannot understand it if they have never experienced it. The person with a phobia realizes that it is often unreasonable and just doesn’t make sense yet feels powerless to change it.  
Sometimes working with a good therapist can help someone with phobias to overcome them no matter what they are.  Yet for many, they go it alone, or are sure to take a trusted friend with them when having to deal with a situation where triggers are found and have a voice on their behalf. Those triggers can come up in a hot second and the effects on the body, mind, heart are hard leaving a person weak afterwards just as a panic attack.
 Others have what is known as recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and spent long periods in constant fear of another attack, that is a condition  called panic disorder.
Panic attacks were once dismissed as nerves or stress, but they’re now recognized as a real medical condition. Although panic attacks can significantly affect your quality of life, treatment can be very effective for some. 
We are living in high stress times, time where fear creates panic, and a panic cycle is hard to break.  

 Learning breathing exercises can help; learning to take control of you, your thoughts, your images, perceived threat and re-setting your thoughts is key to controlling you.  Finding a quiet space, finding calming thoughts, and remembering that YOU are the master/mistress of YOU.  Pay attention to your body, it will often let you know when a trigger is being activated, concentrate on your breathing and enlist support when you need it.
 Repeat after me: I AM A WARRIOR… breathe) i am a warrior (BREATHE) I AM A WARRIOR

May you walk in beauty

Fear terror eye

Fear terror eye (Photo credit: @Doug88888)


5 comments on “When Panic takes over the body

  1. Then are the Pear of India, using a long history, which got the name Burton Taylor later.You could become the crafty friend, that fabulous gift giver, that artiste. Whether you are a bride, a bridesmaid, or just love weddings, take a have a look at what is "in" and "out" for 2010 weddings.My web blog – http://web.newsment.com

  2. Great advice Dr. Sherry. You spoke of a fear I have that I will not even talk about here that could and would bring on a panic attack if I had to face it. Thank you for the advice. Wishing every one here a very happy day. It is a beautiful and sunny day here in SE Michigan. A bit chilly at 49 degrees but I am off work today and was able to sleep in – as it was much needed and the sun is shining bright. I hope the sun is shining bright on you today. /Sandy♥

  3. panic and extreme fear…adrenalin…all bad combinations….I feel for anyone that suffers these. great blog.hugs

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