A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear, associated with palpitations. tremors, breathlessness and a fear of death or dying. The first time this occurs is usually a terrifying experience and a number of people present to the emergency room, afraid for their lives. These episodes however tend to recur, leading to anticipatory anxiety and a feeling of loss of control, disrupting normal social and occupational functioning.
Lucy was a 15 year old, 10th grade student, with her exams coming up next month. The day before her math exam, with her books spread out in front of her. As she ponders over the difficulty of tomorrow’s exam, the what if’s become threat’s, is she going to do badly? Flunk? What would everyone say ? These thoughts prevent her from concentrating, she can seem to remember a line of what she read ! He body reacts to the threat, the heart beats faster, the hands begin to tremble, the stomach groans and she is dripping with sweat. She breaks down, crying and screaming, “I am going to fail tomorrow’s exam, I cant do this anymore !” The next fifteen minutes are spent pacing around, crying and apologizing. Gradually the fear dies down to manageable levels and Lucy begins to study again, to ace her exams the next day.
Shyam is 30 years old, married and is doing fairly well at life. One evening, as he was watching TV, he notices a slight chest discomfort. The thoughts take over(chest pain = heart attack = death). As his mind is predicts the worst, the body prepares to for the perceived threat (faster,louder heart, dizzy head, trembling hands, sweaty palms and a nauseous stomach). He is rushed to the hospital wherein, all his tests fail to reveal any medical illness. He is fine until the same scenario recurs,gradually increasing in frequency until he can’t carry on with routine life anymore.
Continue to Page 2 to learn three greats steps that can help Lucy and Shyam calmly deal with panic attacks.