ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Am I Going to Die? Panic Attacks

Updated on August 7, 2017
montelka profile image

I am a graduate in cell and molecular biology and psychology. I love to write, share ideas, and live a simple life.

What is a Panic Attack?

Almost anyone who has experienced a panic attack has either thought they were dying, going crazy or both. Most Panic attack sufferers often go to the ER, with a firm believe that something has gone terribly wrong with their body or mind. Recognizing symptoms of a panic attack can save you a lengthy stay at the ER , cut your down time and prevent one altogether.

What exactly causes a panic attack is unclear, however certain things can act as triggers. Stressful situations, life events, drugs such as marijuana often precede a panic attack. Once a panic attack has occurred, the physical sensations and fearful thoughts add fuel to the problem. The symptoms of a panic attack are usually what frightens most people and creates a cycle of fear that can be challenging to snap out of. One thing is for certain, it is not easy to think oneself out a panic attack that is already in progress.


Symptoms

The symptoms of a panic attack are quite obvious and intense. Although harmless in short term, if persistent, they can greatly diminish the quality of life. Chronic anxiety can lead depression or interfere with a person's ability to carry on day to day activities. Here are some of the symptoms of a panic attack:

  1. Increased heartbeat
  2. Pacing thoughts and obsessive self analysis
  3. Fear of dying or going insane
  4. Hyperventilation and difficulty breathing
  5. Tightening of neck muscles, dry mouth and trouble swallowing
  6. Dizziness and feeling faint
  7. Tunnel vision - blurred vision on objects not in direct line of sight
  8. Derealization- Sense of loosing touch with reality/ sense of something missing, dream-like feeling, mental fog
  9. Confusion and trouble speaking
  10. Obsession with philosophical concepts e.g. what are are thoughts, why are things as they appear, etc
  11. Sense of impeding doom e.g. A feeling that something terrible is about to happen
  12. Hyper-alertness e.g. sensitivity to loud noises and objects moving in the periphery
  13. Formication: feeling on crawling under he skin
  14. Obsessive behavior e.g. googling of symptoms or diseases

Most people experiencing a panic attack become restless and attempt to do too much to alleviate the symptoms. This only results in more stress to the body, enhancing the symptoms.


Panic Loop

As stated earlier, the symptoms of the panic attack are what frightens most people. It may sound confusing at first, but a person that has suffered a panic attack would know exactly what that means.

A panic attack feels sudden but it usually is not. Initially, stressful situations, life events or drugs often trigger a panic reaction. Real danger can also cause a panic reaction but in that case it is useful as person we will either run away or fight back.

In a panic attack, we become aware of the physical sensations(rapid heart beat, difficulty breathing, confusion,etc), this is leads to frightening thoughts (something dangerous is happening) and then we panic or act hysterical.

The source of danger appears to be from within the body, and we automatically scan through body for anything unusual. At the heightened state of alertness, a person will focus on area of the body where they suspect a problem. Here is an example of what a person may feel when concentrating on one area:


Region of Body
Sensations/Symptoms
Heart
Pounding, flattering, feeling of a fading heartbeat
Stoamach
Nausea, upset stomach
Head
Pulsating at top, back and temperol, dizziness/feeling faint
Skin
feeling of something crawling underneath(formication), itchiness
Mentally
Thoughts of dying, loosing control, going mad/insane, incurable illness, trouble speaking, confusion, derealization

These are exactly the symptoms of being extremely afraid. Think of a situation where you are in the dark, and you heard a scary sound or saw something strange. We often ignore them in the case of an actual threat but in a panic attack, we focus on them, making them the appear strange and frightening.

The obsessive awareness of the physical symptoms, causes frightening thoughts, leading to more panicking. Eventually, the initial trigger becomes irrelevant and the person feels trapped in a loop of frightening thoughts, physical sensations and panicking: hence the feeling of going insane. Understanding that is normal in state of panic is critical in breaking away from the loop of panics following the initial panic attack.

Managing a Panic Attack

For self reassurance, it is important to understand the following:

  • You are not dying, the heart will not stop, and you will not pass out.
  • You are not going insane.
  • Once the body goes back to its normal state, all the symptoms will do away.

Running to the ER, shouting for help or running in circles will not help. Googling and comparing symptoms of serious illnesses is frightening for anyone, and worse while going through a panic attack. Instead, here are some solutions:

i) Understand the symptoms:

All the symptoms are normal, harmless, and will subside over time.

ii) Do not react (act hysterically) to the symptoms:

If we consciously react to the sensations, we starting forming a habit of doing so. If we do not, they simply become less and less relevant.

Analogy: Think of a child, who is scared of scary hand puppet, if they run away every time they see one, they can indeed develop to adulthood with the same fear.

Using other mental faculties such as intelligence/reasoning is important in building useful behavior and distinguishing real threat from fake ones. Reacting to the symptoms of a panic attack trains the body to assume there is an actual threat within the body.

iii) Distraction

Instead of focusing on physical sensations or frightening thoughts, one may decide to concentrate on anything else. Although difficult initially, it becomes easier with time. Recognize the feeling as harmless and go around your business: watch TV, read a book, talk to a friend,etc

iv) Deep breaths

Taking deep breaths is useful in reducing chest pains and hyperventilation, but difficult to do when panicking. Distraction works just as well.

iv) Long term

It is also beneficial to talk to a counselor or psychologist for useful tips. Experienced professionals can give deeper insight or solutions and other management tools.

Cast your vote for " Was this article helpful? "

© 2017 montelka

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      12 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I suffered from panic attacks that were a lot like asthma attacks. I did feel that I was going to die, and going to the emergency room was the only option. As I lay there on the cart while the people tried to figure out what was wrong, my body relaxed enough that the symptoms went away. Then they sent me home. I soon learned that deep breathing helped the symptoms to subside, and I spent a lot less time in the hospital!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)