If you’ve never had a panic attack it can be very difficult to understand what all the fuss is about. I’ve heard them described, in some quarters, as attention seeking strategies, and nothing could be further from the truth.
If you’ve ever had a panic attack, then you probably thought that you were having a heart attack and were likely going to die. And even to a professional they can look very similar. If you are ever in the slightest doubt call for an ambulance.
During a panic attack the world will close in and stifle you. Your heart will race. Your breath will probably come in gasps, seemingly controlled by something outside of you. Your body temperature will fluctuate. Your limbs will shake. Your eyes will narrow. You will be consumed by the horror of what is happening to you.
And it can be an incredibly lonely experience because your family and friends might have been lucky enough never to have had one.
I always think that the most important thing we can do for panic attacks and in fact all mental health issues is to understand the science behind what is happening to us. Once you begin to understand it can help take some of the fear away.
Not only that, I have been asked to speak to my client’s partners and even their bosses so that they too understand what is happening; the speed and the intensity of an attack can be alarming for everybody. One of the times I have been most touched was when my doctor said to me “I have never experienced this problem please can you tell me what it feels like for you?” Wow! I suddenly felt validated, believed, and not worried that he thought I was making it up or exaggerating how I felt.
So many of us avoid this kind of conversation, it can be too vulnerable for both parties, but the truth is we get the best results when we can be honest at this level.
How does this work?
In the therapy room we will build both an understanding of what happens to the body during a panic attack and a toolbox of strategies which will become an emergency toolkit.