Panic attacks may not be life threatening, but from personal experience I can testify they are a terrifying and humiliating experience.
Panic attacks can happen anywhere and at any time. Common places people experience panic is in shopping centres, cafes, hospital, flying and even at home while sleeping.
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
- Hot or cold flushes
- Dry mouth
Behind the panic
What happens during a panic attack?
When we sense the threat of danger, our nervous system instantly activates a ‘fight-or-flight’ response. Our body is then flooded with excessive and overwhelming levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenalin.
It’s understandable that our primitive ancestors sporadically experienced the ‘fight-or-flight’ response when threatened by a predator such as a Saber-toothed tiger.
Today our life is relentlessly fueled with adrenalin and we are paying the ultimate price with our wellbeing. Imagine living constantly on high alert. For people like myself, our brain perceives nearly anything as a potential threat; from crowds, to traffic, swimming in a pool, visiting the Dentist or giving a presentation. Unfortunately, our brain is unable to distinguish between a real and perceived threat.
My life has been severely impacted by something that was unpredictable, invisible and was difficult for other people to understand. The good news is we can manage both stress and panic. Stay tuned for the next post where I share how I learnt, and am still learning, how to manage panic.
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