Anxiety: What does a Panic Attack feel like?
Anxiety and Panic Attacks, what do they feel like?
If you are reading this page, you are almost certainly wondering if you have anxiety, and suffering from panic attacks.
Having been a long term sufferer myself, I'd like to guide you through how I feel when I have them, and tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
If you are suffering from very bad anxiety, even reading this page may be hard for you, whether that be to concentrate on it or just the feeling of wanting to get out of here.
But please, you have made it here so take another 30 seconds and read on...
I have written this page in a way that I would like to read one when having a panic attack. I've split it up into short easy sections, so that you can stop reading whenever you like, and return to the page when you choose and keep on reading.
I will say, that this page, if nothing else, hopefully will make you understand that you are not alone. That there are millions of people all over the world that feel the same as you, however hard that may be to believe. I thought nobody could feel like me, I was wrong.
No matter how down you are, you do have a future. There is a way out, and things CAN get better.
Photo published under Public Domain Licence.
What do my panic attacks feel like?
My Panic Attacks feel like a balloon popping!
Imagine if you can, sitting relaxed without any worries in the world. Then, some dark force creeps up behind you and pops a balloon next to your ear.
The first reaction is fright and shock. Your heart will race,and you will jump. This may last a few seconds until you realize it is just a balloon and the feeling goes away.
But what if it doesn't? What if that 4 or 5 seconds of fear stayed with you for half hour more, or an hour, or all day?
That is how I feel when I have panic attacks. That 4 or 5 seconds somehow becomes locked in your brain, and it doesn't go away. Even though you are intelligent and know it was only a balloon the feeling is there to stay.
The fear has crept in. This is a panic attack, and everything you do to try and make it go away makes it worse.
You then convince yourself that there is no escape from this feeling. But there is.
Some highlights of advise from Dr Claire Weekes Book to follow
I've put some highlights that have helped me on this page from the first half of Dr Claire Weekes Book 'Self Help for your Nerves' into my own words with some of my own examples.
For the minute, on this page we won't go any further than this, to give you a steady pace to start your healing process.
Learning to fight them? NO!, don't ever try to fight a panic attack!
First learn to accept and live with panic attacks.
I have read many books about panic attacks, and I have also spoke to, and am friends with long term sufferers.
We all agree that the worst advise is to fight them, 'Pull yourself together', 'Sort yourself out!'. This isn't the answer, will not help, and in fact will make things so much worse. In fact this is probably the worst advise that you can ever have.
A nervous illness can be helped by your nerves calming down. This can be done by accepting them and not fighting them. Dr Claire Weekes book explains this in greater detail.
Dr Claire Weekes, Self Help for your Nerves
'Self Help for your Nerves' is the book that really helped me to get started with how to deal with anxiety.
The book takes a view that I had never considered before and was a refreshing new look on the way that the nervous system works.
It's a Best Seller and has been published in eight different languages and is recommended by doctors.
The book starts by promising that if you have a nervous illness it will cure you. It doesn't ask for patience as this is almost impossible for a nervous person.
It then explains how our nervous systems works and what is a nervous illness.
The book then takes you on a curing journey, explaining nerves like a muscle that need to relax, and the more you fight them the more they can't.
Self Help for your Nerves only has 171 pages. It is written in a way that is broken down into easy to read chunks so that it isn't daunting for a person with panic attacks to read.
I highly recommend this book.
The Voluntary Nervous System
This is our nervous system that we can usually control, depending on how nervous we feel. Our brains send signals to our limbs and spinal cord, which then respond in the way that we want them to.
However, when having a panic attack this may become difficult for you.
The Involuntary Nervous System
This relates to our internal organs, the heart, lungs, liver etc.
This is key when having anxiety. These may affect symptoms such as sweating, a racing heart, dilating pupils, shaking etc.
It is called involuntary as although we have no control over them, the part in our brain, and our moods will affect them.
When ourselves or animals become scared, we all show these signs.
Being scared, shocked or shaken may all cause these symptoms. Even such things as blushing are seen as involuntary.
So you may have 'Bad Nerves'
Am I having a nervous breakdown?
So, you have found yourself with 'Bad Nerves'. Many, many people suffer from these. You have gotten yourself into a scared state about any number of everyday things. The severity of this will vary from person to person.
For one person it may be a business meeting, for another a 5 minute walk to the shops.
Nobody likes the sound of 'A Nervous Breakdown' or would like to admit to having one, but at the end of the day, if you do have bad nerves, you can consider that you (in some form) are experiencing one.
Now, I am in no way saying that anybody that gets nervous about something is having a breakdown. This is natural to us all. But, if these symptoms are an ongoing cause, that is stopping you from living a normal life, maybe the snobbish part of us should stop and think that we do have an illness.
Am I really ill? I have physical symptoms
Physical symptoms of panic attacks
This for me was the really hard part to determine if it was just in my head or was I actually going to die. Do I have a brain tumor? heart disease?
I have found that many people feel the same, they do have physical symptoms. These are explained a little in the involuntary nervous system chapter.
Your physical symptoms may include:
Unable to sleep
Racing heart and heart palpitations
Pins and needles
A tight chest
Inability to breath deeply
and many more...
The vicious fear and adrenalin circle
Many healthy people get fear, fear can cause panic attacks. When somebody has fear, adrenalin is normally used by our bodies to help to fight this.
Adrenalin is a chemical that we release as a defense. So, a person that is already experiencing these fear factors, may have this extra adrenalin added. It will therefore add to more heart palpitations, and physical symptoms, leaving the person feeling like they are really dying.
The more the body and mind worries about this, the more adrenalin is added. Causing a vicious circle.
This will calm down, you will learn that it will not kill you. However, the thought of this recurring may cause a vicious circle, meaning more adrenalin and more anxiety.
Curing the simpler form of nervous illness
Doing the opposite to what you are doing
Dr Claire Weekes explains in her book something that people think is far to simple to cure them.
She makes four points,
Letting time pass
You may be doing the opposite making things worse.
Running away, not facing
Fighting, not accepting
Arresting and Listening in
Being impatient with time, not letting it pass
She then goes on to explain how taking these first steps instead of the second ones, will calm your nerves, will break you out of the vicious circle and will cure the physical symptoms.
You can find peace, whatever that is for you
imageTaken by peterb6001.
If you are relating to what is being said here then you I encourage you read her book
I know it's hard to image, when you are in the stage that you are that these simple steps can not help you, somebody telling you to relax when you are nervous just doesn't work because you cannot.
You try to relax, therefore trying means fighting. Fighting, means making your nerves work harder and off you go again.
For me, in this book, acceptance is the key.
Accepting that your heart is going much faster than it should, that you do have a dry mouth or are shaking and learning to live with that. Learning in a way to think, OK, this is happening to me, it will not kill me and it will pass really is the best help.
Thinking, it's happening and floating with it, sitting relaxed and comfortable and riding that roller coaster will make it go away a lot quicker.
Thinking to yourself in brain, calm down, relax, fight it will only make it worse.
I hope that these first few notes I have written here will help you on your way to becoming yourself again.