*Emergency Room Panic Attacks
When you are awakened at 2:00am with your heart thumping “out of your chest” and you are gasping for what you believe could be your last breath, naturally you call 911 and race to the ER. A complete battery of tests indicates nothing is wrong medically and the Doctor asks you whether you are under stress. This makes no sense! Your life is going fine. There are plenty of other times in your life when you have been under way more stress. Terrifying intense physical symptoms without a cause make you think, “It must be a medical problem.” “The Doctor must have missed something” immediately runs through your head. When your Family Doctor agrees that you are physically well, now you begin to think “What is causing me to feel so awful?” “Maybe the Doctor is not taking me seriously. Maybe I should get a second opinion.”
Early Diagnosis of Panic Disorder
How long will it take you to confirm a diagnosis of panic disorder and accept the diagnosis? Early diagnosis of panic disorder is the key first step to prevention. Panic attack victims have been in such control of their lives and well-functioning, it is hard to believe that they are suffering from an anxiety disorder. The panic attack victim often views the panic disorder diagnosis as a sign of weakness or a flaw within themselves that is unacceptable. The expectation often is that the sufferer “should” be able to apply self-control measures and take care of the anxiety disorder without outside help.
The Progression of Panic Disorder
Now, while shopping in the marketplace, you suddenly feel that same weird terrifying feelings that woke you up at 2:00am. This time, you feel woozy, unsteady, off-balance, and spacey. You cannot stop yourself from thinking you could collapse in the aisle. When your legs turn to jelly, and you fear you might not make it home, you leave the half-filled cart in the aisle of the market, and rush outside to get fresh air before you faint. Concerned about your ability to drive home safely, you call for help and ask your spouse to leave work and drive you home.
Now, you notice you are more reluctant to go out shopping alone. You rearrange your shopping expeditions so shopping only occurs when stores are virtually empty and there are no lines. You feel somewhat relieved that you can escape quickly in the event another one of those weird attacks hit. You notice you have begun to limit your driving alone to short distances from home. You think, “Just in case I don’t feel right”, I won’t have too far to drive home. Now, you notice as soon as you wake up in the morning, your first thought is “How am I going to feel today? What do I have to do today?” You find yourself checking for weird feelings before you go out. You want to make sure you feel up to going out.
Your spouse informs you of a business trip that will cause separation for three days. You immediately feel a wave of nausea and weakness flash through your body. You think, “What I get sick and cannot reach my spouse?”
Don’t Let Panic Attacks Take Over Your Life!
Receiving and accepting a diagnosis a of panic disorder can go a long way to help you stop letting the panic attack symptoms run your life. Panic Disorder Education can serve as a huge first step in taking back control of your life. Understanding and believing that the panic attack symptoms of heart pounding, rubbery legs, nausea and shallow breathing will not lead to a heart attack, legs give out, get sick or suffocate can be very reassuring. Identifying and destroying your false catastrophic thoughts can take the terror out of panic attacks and give you the confidence to open up your world again.
The ideas in this blog are developed from Dr. Blumberg’s panicLINK Program. PanicLINK is a comprehensive, twelve session, four phase, multi-media educational program on panic disorder. The material in this Blog and the panicLINK Program are copyright protected by Out of the Blue Network, LLC. No permission is granted to reproduce this blog for commercial purposes. For more information about the panicLINK Program, connect at www.paniclink.com.
* This educational information should always be used in consultation with your doctor to confirm a diagnosis and review available treatments for panic disorder.