Panic attacks can affect anybody. You don’t need to have had a lifetime of anxiety to experience them. In fact they often start after one bad experience.
Not all Anxiety is bad for us. You may not have thought about it this way but of course those anxious feelings can be something we all experience from time to time.
You can probably remember feeling nervous and tense, even fearful at the thought of taking your driving test, sitting an exam, or starting a new job.
Did you know that short term Anxiety can be useful ?
It’s not all bad because feeling nervous before an exam can make you feel more alert and enhance your performance. I remember how focussed I was when I took my driving test and it helped me through it. I also experienced a great release once it was over and I was told that I had passed. However, if those feelings of anxiety remain and become more permanent they can overwhelm you and cause a panic attack.
What is fight or flight and why does it happen?
That feeling you experience is designed to protect you from danger. When the time is appropriate your anxiety and fear trigger the release of hormones, such as adrenalin. This sudden rush of adrenalin makes your heart to beat faster to carry blood where it's most needed. Your breath accelerates to provide the extra oxygen required to give you enough energy to run away. You can feel yourself sweating to help cool you down and prevent overheating. Even your mouth can feel dryer when your natural digestive system slows down to allow more blood to be pumped to your muscles. This sudden rush means that all of our senses become heightened and we are so much more alert. We are ready for fighting or running away in an instant.
This is known as the 'fight or flight' reflex.
After we have either run away or fought then we find that other hormones are released, these can even cause you to shake as your muscles start to relax. You can feel dizzy with the lack of oxygen that happened in the initial response.
Because we evolved to have this reaction to a real threat and yet our lives have changed immeasurably we still have not evolved a way to stop these things happening unless we get some help and find out how to break that pattern.
Even though what can be causing the stress and anxiety may be only in your mind, the fact that the body does not understand the difference between real and imagined means that you may well suffer a panic attack. Once you have suffered one you may find the biggest problem is the fear that you will have another one.
How long does a Panic Attack Last?
Everyone is different although there are lots of things that panic attack sufferers have in common. Your panic attack can last for between two minutes, five or even 20 minutes. You may never have another, and many people feel that they are dying or having a heart attack. They don’t just happen during the day either.
Panic attacks can happen during the night and wake you up sweating and with your heart beating very fast. Often these coincide with periods of intense stress where you have not been able to calm down enough and let go of that stress.
What can I do to stop a panic attack?
The good news is that with a little help you can learn how to end your panic attacks. You can take back control of the stress and anxiety in your life and I even help people to break the cycle of panic attacks so that you would even struggle to make yourself have on again.