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What does a panic attack feel like?
Imagine a moment in your life where you felt an extreme amount of fear. Take that extreme fear, and combine it with feeling like you’re about to die – either from suffocation or a heart attack, and you’re feeling every moment of all of these, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
This is what a panic attack feels like.
I don’t know how many people understand this, but panic attacks are no joke. What happens to your body physically while having a panic attack is real. It takes a toll on you physically, as well as mentally. The rate of developing heart related diseases increases by 50% for those who have them.
When I had my very first panic attack, I didn’t know that’s what it was. I was 13 years old at the time. I was just sitting in the living room watching T.V. It came on very quickly and suddenly. I started to feel…weird. There was this feeling that started in my chest, and it started to spread to the rest of my body. I told my mom something wasn’t right, I didn’t feel right. It quickly escalated from there.
My mother called an ambulance, the EMT’s didn’t know what was happening either. My blood pressure dropped so low they couldn’t find it, and the last thing I heard them say before I blacked out was, “We’re losing her.”
Here’s what was happening to my body – I had hyperventilated to the point that my extremities were cramping and drawing up, it was extremely painful.
My heart was racing at 144 bpm, my ears started ringing so loudly I could barely hear the EMT’s talking.
For a brief moment I felt disconnected from myself, and then my blood pressure plummeted, causing me to black out.
As soon as we arrived at the ER, the Dr. there knew exactly what was happening and gave me a valium. I started to feel better pretty quickly, but it still took about an hour for my muscles to completely relax from their drawn up state.
He said it was the most severe panic attack he had ever seen.
It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced in my life. I really don’t know what caused it to happen that night. When I think back, I know there was a lot going on, and things were very stressful and tense in my household. From what I’ve learned, panic attacks don’t necessarily have any specific trigger.
Living and learning
I started to learn what would trigger my anxiety, and how to gain control before my anxiety turned into a full blown panic attack. It sucked, because every time I would start to feel the panic rising, I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to get it under control.
Additionally, I learned panic attacks are often associated with panic disorder. If you have had two or more panic attacks, and constantly fear having another one, you may be diagnosed with having panic disorder. This is also associated with having anxiety.
I noticed I would feel this way when I was really stressed, or had a lot going on in my life. Sometimes my feelings of anxiety would start to rise when I was driving, which was very scary. I was afraid I’d have a panic attack while driving. Calling someone as soon as I felt the panic setting in helped a lot. They would talk to me about anything and everything to keep my mind off of it.
I had one other full blown panic attack, five years after the first one. This one happened while I was at work, I was 18 at the time. It had a huge impact on me, because it happened in front of all of my co-workers. I felt humiliated and embarrassed, as I had to be taken to the emergency room by ambulance.
It was so awful having everyone witness this. After this incident, I worked even harder to prevent it from ever happening again. It took several years of practice, but eventually I gained control. I haven’t had a panic attack since the last one at 18. I haven’t had an anxiety attack in at least 10 years.
You can get better
I’m sharing my experience to show you if you want it bad enough, and work hard, you can get your panic attacks under control. It will take time, and it’s not easy, but it can be done. I’m hoping this will give you hope in knowing that it is possible.
Having a panic attack is horrible. It’s scary, and it takes a toll on both your mental and physical health and well being. It’s so important to work on learning what your triggers are, and what you can do to calm yourself when you feel your anxiety rising.
Don’t allow anxiety and panic rule your life. Reach out to a counselor or therapist, but don’t just rely on medicine to help. It’s important to learn coping skills and techniques so when things do happen, you will be able to better react and handle the situation. Medicine alone is not the answer.
If I could choose three things that helped me the most with getting my anxiety and panic under control, they would be:
- Practicing self-awareness and mindfulness
- Having a support system and a plan in place
- Persistence and determination
Everyone is different, and each circumstance is different. It’s important to find what works for you. You may have to experiment and try multiple combinations of techniques before you find what works best for you. The most important thing to remember is not to give up.
Related – How To Never Have a Panic Attack Again
Natural ways to treat anxiety and panic
There are some things you can try to ease your anxiety and help you relax, aside from prescription medication. These have worked wonders for me, and have helped in so many ways. They have helped me to change my life.
Made by Hemp’s CBD oil CALM collection – CBD works with our body’s own CB1 receptors by activating them, which protects against the adverse effects of chronic stress. This is what often leads to developing anxiety.
The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety – This is an amazing 8 week program that teaches you how to use mindfulness to focus on the root cause of your anxiety. By using day-by-day guidance and simple activities, you learn to both manage and decrease your anxiety.
Dream Zone Sound Machine – I absolutely LOVE my sound machine, and I’m so glad I decided to get one. I have suffered with extreme bouts of insomnia my entire life, and this has helped me not only get to sleep faster, it also relaxes both my mind and body.
Related: Other ways to ease depression and anxiety symptoms naturally
I hope this will help you understand not only what it’s like to have a panic attack, but there are things you can do to get better. You don’t need to live in constant anxiety and fear. Reach out, and find someone who can help you. It will change your life in so many ways.
If you struggle with panic or anxiety attacks, what are your experiences? What are some things that have helped you to get them under control? Let me know in the comments.