people have asked me what it feels like to have a panic attack. I have
thought about it for quite a long time and the best description I could think of
was the video clip just to the right of the page. Just imagine you are driving
down the road when suddenly a car pulls in front of you. Immediately a surge of
adrenalin rushes through your body, your heart begins to race, you start to
shake uncontrollably, and you feel as though you can't breathe. Now image
yourself laying on your couch relaxing after a hard day at work when suddenly
those exact same feeling come over you but this time you have no idea what has
caused this to happen. Your mind begins to race thinking that something
horrible is happening to you. You might think you are having a heart attack or
possibly a stroke. Now if someone tells you they have panic attacks you will be
able to understand better as to what they are going through. One of the
best descriptions is by actress Kim Basinger. She along with other famous and regular people have made a wonderful video
called Panic-A Film to help you Cope, where they share not only their stories but their lives. If you would like to watch the entire video please scroll to the bottom of the page for more details.
Anxietyis a normal part of the response to a
challenging or threatening situation. As such, it may actually
be advantageous. However, severe, persistent or inappropriate anxiety can impair
everyday life, as well as affecting occupational and social functioning.
Symptoms of an anxiety attack
include palpitations, sweating, trembling and feelings of fear and panic, are a
common finding among patients in primary care. Patients may complain of:
• primary symptoms of nervousness, apprehension, irritability and
• a constellation of physical signs and symptoms, particularly in
certain situations or a combination of both.
On this Site
Information, support and advice for Anxiety and Panic Attacks
The distinction between
anxiety symptoms and
anxiety disorders is an important one. In many individuals, symptoms
are a normal reaction to everyday problems or major life events, and such
patients may not need treatment. In contrast, primary anxiety disorders, in
which the anxiety is abnormal in quality or severity, and often inappropriate or
unrelated to the external situation, are disabling and lead to significant
distress or impairment in work or social functioning. As a result, patient's
quality of life is usually adversely affected.
Anxiety Attacks can be accompanied
by physical effects such as heart palpitations, nausea,
chest pain, shortness of breath, stomach aches,
or headaches. Physically, the body prepares to deal with what
it perceives as a threat. Blood pressure and heart rate are increased,
sweating is increased, blood flow to muscle groups increases and immune
and digestive system functions are inhibited (the fight or flight response).
External signs of anxiety may include pale skin,
sweating, trembling and many others. Someone suffering
from anxiety might also experience it as a sense of dread or
panic. A number of substances can produce symptoms of anxiety...more
There are several other conditions that are included
under the definition of
Anxiety Disorders. Many people experience more than one of these
conditions. Our main focus will be on Generalized Anxiety Disorder
and Panic attacks. We will however provide information on the
other Anxiety Disorders.
The symptoms of PANIC ATTACKS
you are feeling one or more of these symptoms please take our
Panic Attack Questionnaire."
Do not use this to self-diagnose yourself
Visit your Doctor for a complete diagnosis."
• raging heartbeat
• difficulty breathing
• feeling as though you can't get enough air
• terror that is almost paralyzing
• nervous, shaking, stress
• heart palpitations, feeling of dread
• dizziness, lightheadedness or nausea
• trembling, sweating, shaking
• choking, chest pains, distress
• fear, fright, afraid, anxious
• hot flashes, or sudden chills
• tingling in fingers or toes ('pins and needles')
• fearful that you're going to go crazy or are about to die
This list is just a
guide. Not everyone will experience all of these symptoms and some will
experience ones not listed here. These are just the most common panic attack
symptoms. Read more
Panic attacks are not dangerous, but they can be terrifying,
largely because it feels 'crazy' and 'out of control. Panic disorder
is frightening because of the panic attacks associated with it,
and also because it often leads to other complications such as
phobias, depression, substance
abuse, medical complications, even suicide.
Panic disorder is a real illness that can be successfully treated. It is
characterized by sudden attacks of terror, usually accompanied by a pounding
heart, sweatiness, weakness, faintness, or dizziness. During these attacks,
people with panic disorder may flush or feel chilled; their hands may tingle or
feel numb; and they may experience nausea, chest pain, or smothering sensations.
Panic attacks usually produce a sense of unreality, a fear of impending doom, or
a fear of losing control. A fear of one's own unexplained physical symptoms is
also a symptom of panic disorder. People having panic attacks sometimes believe
they are having heart attacks, losing their minds, or on the verge of death.
They can't predict when or where an attack will occur, and between episodes many
worry intensely and dread the next attack. Panic attacks can occur at any time,
even during sleep. An attack usually peaks within 10 minutes, but some symptoms
may last much longer. Panic disorder affects about 6 million American adults and
is twice as common in women as men.
Panic attacks often begin in late adolescence or early adulthood, but not
everyone who experiences panic attacks will develop panic disorder. Many people
have just one attack and never have another. The tendency to develop panic
attacks appears to be inherited. People who have full-blown, repeated panic
attacks can become very disabled by their condition and should seek treatment
before they start to avoid places or situations where panic attacks have
occurred. For example, if a panic attack happened in an elevator, someone with
panic disorder may develop a fear of elevators that could affect the choice of a
job or an apartment, and restrict where that person can seek medical attention
or enjoy entertainment. Some people's lives become so restricted that they avoid
normal activities, such as grocery shopping or driving.
About one-third become housebound or are able to confront a feared situation
only when accompanied by a spouse or other trusted person. When the condition
progresses this far, it is called agoraphobia, or fear of open spaces. Early
treatment can often prevent
agoraphobia, but people with panic
disorder may sometimes go from doctor to doctor for years and visit the
emergency room repeatedly before someone correctly diagnoses their condition.
This is unfortunate, because panic disorder is one of the most treatable of all
the anxiety disorders, responding in most cases to certain kinds of medication
or certain kinds of cognitive psychotherapy, which help change thinking patterns
that lead to fear and anxiety. Panic disorder is often accompanied by other
serious problems, such as depression, drug abuse, or alcoholism. These
conditions need to be treated separately. Symptoms of
depression include feelings of sadness
or hopelessness, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, low energy, and
difficulty concentrating. Most people with depression can be effectively treated
with antidepressant medications, certain types of psychotherapy, or a
combination of the two. Take our:
Many people with anxiety disorders can be helped with treatment. Therapy for
anxiety disorders often involves medication or specific forms of psychotherapy
or natural treatment options.
Medications, although not cures, can be very effective at relieving anxiety
symptoms. Today, thanks to research by scientists at NIMH and other research
institutions, there are more medications available than ever before to treat
anxiety disorders. So if one drug is not successful, there are usually
others to try. In addition, new medications to treat anxiety symptoms are
under development. Please be cautioned though, Anti-depressants and
benzodiazepines are highly addictive and can not be stopped without a slow
decrease in dosage. It is best to try other therapy or natural treatments
before trying medications. They should be used as a last resort
because of their being highly addictive.
For most of the medications that are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, the
doctor usually starts the patient on a low dose and gradually increases it to
the full dose. Every medication has side effects, but they usually become
tolerated or diminish with time. If side effects become a problem, the doctor
may advise the patient to stop taking the medication gradually and to wait a
week--or longer for certain drugs--before trying another one. When treatment is
near an end, the doctor will taper the dosage gradually.
Research has also shown that behavioral therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy
can be effective for treating several of the anxiety disorders.
Behavioral therapy focuses on changing specific actions and uses several
techniques to decrease or stop unwanted behavior. For example, one technique
trains patients in diaphragmatic breathing, a special breathing exercise
involving slow, deep breaths to reduce anxiety.
The Healing Panic Attacks Recovery Program provides a web site teaching
these techniques The program gives step by step instructions on how to practice
these techniques. They should be practiced when you are feeling your best. It
will then teach your body to adapt to breathing in this way therefore reducing
or eliminating panic attacks. Learning breathing techniques is necessary because
people who are anxious often hyperventilate, taking rapid shallow breaths that
can trigger rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness, and other symptoms. Another
technique--exposure therapy--gradually exposes patients to what frightens them
and helps them cope with their fears.
Like behavioral therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy
teaches patients to react differently to the situations and bodily sensations
that trigger panic attacks and other anxiety symptoms. However, patients also
learn to understand how their thinking patterns contribute to their symptoms and
how to change their thoughts so that symptoms are less likely to occur. This
awareness of thinking patterns is combined with exposure and other behavioral
techniques to help people confront their feared situations. For example, someone
who becomes lightheaded during a panic attack and fears he is going to die can
be helped with the following approach used in cognitive-behavioral therapy. The
therapist asks him to spin in a circle until he becomes dizzy. When he becomes
alarmed and starts thinking, "I'm going to die," he learns to replace that
thought with a more appropriate one, such as, "It's just a little dizziness--I
can handle it."
Please be cautioned to not take these treatments as a substitute for seeking a
Panic - A film to help you cope
This trailer is about a documentary
featuring Kim Basinger, Earl Campbell and others struggling with anxiety and
If you would like to watch the film online you can have
instant access to it for only
If you would like to order the DVD
$16.99 plus S/H
plus S/H Only 1 left in stock.
The authority on panic and anxiety-newly revised and
expanded. Are you one of the more than nineteen million Americans who suffer from
anxiety? Don't panic. Newly revised and expanded, this edition
offers a straightforward and remarkably effective self-help program for
overcoming panic and coping with anxious fears. With insight and compassion,
Reid Wilson, Ph.D., demystifies anxiety attacks and provides indispensable
ability to relax your body and calm you mind is necessary for health and
well-being. This recording helps you discover your capacities for relaxation
and inner calm.
Progressive Relaxation promotes
mind-body awareness and the deep relaxation of muscles through out your
body. This recording guides you to gently contract then relax different
muscle groups. It concludes with awareness of your entire body resting in a
state of relaxation.
The mission of AnxietyPanic.comis to
educate patients, families, caregivers and the community about anxiety and panic
disorders in order to relieve suffering, instill hope, and improve lives.
not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.