Panic Disorder and You

Freedom from panic

Hello,

Welcome to PanicTermination Blog!

You have landed here because I assume, you are a sufferer of panic disorder.

But who is this?

My name is Himanshu. I had been a panic sufferer for a long time. I am writing this blog because I have suffered a lot and I realized that people suffer from panic disorder because of lack of appropriate advice and empathy. I want to help you with your fears and try to bring some ease to your life with my very own experiences.

 [I want to talk about is the core distress you experience in panic disorder and associated anxiety which is difficult to  explain in words and what only psychologists understand ] 

Also,

 [There is much more than just the medical definitions or notions of the feelings and symptoms of panic disorder from the sufferer’s point of view] 

[According to my experience medical explanations are the simplest explanations regarding panic disorder]

It might have been a while, you are suffering from Panic Disorder. You might be having your story.

 Let me tell you my story…

When I had my very first panic attack, I was almost dead with the dread I experienced. I absolutely didn’t know that such kind of fear exists and it can be very disabling. I thought I had a heart attack. Then I went to my physician and he ended up saying it is because of stress or depression. I told him I had no peer pressure except some college examination stress. He prescribed some basic anti-anxiety pills.

The condition did not improve during the next 4-5 months. I started having repeated attacks of fear and discomfort about which there was nobody to explain. That was the most distressing time period of my life. I suffered lightheadedness, physical imbalance, palpitations, and intense fear. All the doctors just said it is stress or depression or anxiety and suggested me to change the lifestyle or keep taking the pills.

I was bewildered by everything that was happening. There was no real appreciation to my questioDoctors even on being medical professionals could not understand what was happening and they were giving me ineffective pieces of advice for such a distressing problem.

I was annoyed.

(This is the reality in many developed countries. Physicians are not capable to help panic disorder sufferers!)

So,

I began to find the answers on my own.

I did a lot of reading in psychology. I found out what the problem actually was, who are the experts for these problems, what is the actual clinical significance of panic disorder and what is its standard treatment protocol based on latest psychological research and things like that.

That gave me insight and helped me to recover from my problem and lead a confident life.

You are wondering: Is it natural or unnatural?

Probably nobody is able to show you empathy…they are just not capable of it.

 (This blog is an effort to ease or help you get rid of your suffering with panic disorder) 

First, let us talk about how you Feel

Let me speak your mind

You are battling your life struggles.

It is difficult for you to explain your condition, your feelings and your distress to others. Nearly every move in your daily life is preceded by anxiety, thoughts of failure and feelings of the hell and dead.

You try to be sane in all possible ways but it feels like evil is chasing you, determined to drive you towards the worst.

There is a strange feeling with a sense of impending doom which cripples you.

Panic attack Symptoms you are experiencing include :  

  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or smothering
  • Feelings of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Dizziness or light–headedness
  • Pins and needles
  • Butterflies in stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Derealization or depersonalization and
  • Chills or hot flushes

Now these are the list of symptoms which are generally stated are in generic form.

What do I mean?

Palpitation, dread, fear, pins and needles, hot flushes and chills, trembling are experienced by normal people also. Nearly all experience these symptoms while climbing a hill or mountain (Trekking), going on stage for the first time, suffering an accident, witnessing a crime like murder, confronting dangerous wild animals and so on.

I don’t mean to say people experience them once or twice in a lifetime. They often experience such fears.

But what you experience is not the same.

If so, then what is actually experienced by people with panic disorder?

No doubt the symptoms listed above are the symptoms of Panic Disorder but each symptom is expressed in the most formal way. They are the terms which researchers and doctors use when they need to identify the symptoms or diagnose problems.

What you feel cannot be explained just with these words. (You completely understand what I mean)

 Take a very obvious example

You might have experienced shivering and shaking in the cold winter days whenever you are outside without warm clothes or if you take a cold water shower on cold days. Now, if we see from the point of view of your body’s reaction. The shivering and shaking in pretty much similar in magnitude to the trembling in panic attacks.

But, there is a major difference on the mental level. In panic attacks, along with trembling and shaking, you have a very intense and unpleasant dread and fear. Such a feeling is not there in the shivering and shaking due to cold.

This is the reason only a few people can understand your condition. To understand what you are experiencing they need to experience panic attacks themselves. Experience is the best teacher.

These terms are used to decide on the clinical protocols while treating anxious conditions.

These are the medical terms and that’s why they are not understood by the common people. If you ask anybody what to do if you are facing such symptoms or fears the will probably tell you to relax, drink a cup of green tea or read a motivational book or simply forget the fears and be strong etc.

You might be getting annoyed with this. RIGHT?

What you feel and think in Panic Disorder?

This is it:

1.
You are highly concerned with the pulse rate of your heart

You care your heart like we care our open wounds.You walk slowly, fear running and climbing stairs or doing physical work
You avoid all the situations which cause palpitations. The reason you give is that they can increase your pulse rate and trigger a heart attack!

You are pretty sure you have a blockage in the heart and have convinced yourself that this palpitation is due to that.

So you are avoiding a heart attack.

Finally,

 Your fear = Having a Heart Attack      

(But anxiey does not cause heart attacks!)
2.You are overly concerned about fainting

You feel that you can pass out anytime anywhere. The dizziness and tingling sensations give you the surety for that.

You feel dizziness and tingling while you are walking on the road, or at home doing anything.You feel with utmost surety that you can fall on the ground and pass out anytime.

This symptom is called as dizziness but it is simply more than that.

You feel that energy is getting sucked out of your body. You feel tired and lethargic. This is not persistent but it comes in episodes. With that, you feel an imbalance in walking. It is like vertigo but, not actually. You can feel your arms and legs are less energetic and you feel an urgent need for rest or sleep.

You suspect that there can be a tumor in our brain which may be causing this thing. Then you cannot rule out this thing that you have a brain tumor.

You may also feel that this can cause you to have a seizure. The sensation and the feeling are so convincing that many people feel that they are about to have a seizure.

While walking or sitting erect you experience that you are leaning towards one side out of balance. It is a feeling like the muscles which keep you in posture are not working or they are getting slowly inactive.

 Your fear = Fear of fainting 

But,  Fainting is exceedingly rare in Panic Attacks!

3. You feel tingling in many parts of the body

It is felt especially deep in the head and in the forehead above eyes. It is also felt in the arms and legs.

This tingling is a unique thing to you. It feels like having high-intensity micro-vibrations in the head like a small vibrator is placed inside the head.

When this sensation comes up with trembling, you feel like you are having a paralysis attack. You feel that your nerves are closing up their function and are paralyzing you.

But no matter how intense the sensation is, it is discomforting but not dangerous.
4. You feel pressure and heaviness in head, chest, and abdomen

The pressure in the chest feels like the heart is exploding or a balloon is being blown up in the chest. You suspect that there are problems with the valves of the heart it is not pumping blood properly.

You recall that how did your neighbor or relative have a heart attack of nowhere. YOU find it difficult not to believe in this thing.

Similarly, you experience heaviness and pressure in the head. It feels like the head wants to blow up like a balloon.

5. Breathlessness. It is very uncomforting as it gives the sensation of suffocation

When panic strikes it is very common for you to feel that your lungs are working hard to get oxygen. They are generating long sighs and it is happening involuntarily. Despite breathing deep and fast you feel suffocation.

It hurts a lot in the chest and the upper abdomen just below the rib cage.
This is called hyperventilation and it is not suffocation at all. It is not dangerous.
6. Impending doom, the ultimate dread
This thing is a great characteristic outcome of panic disorder. This is the heaviest and difficult thing to bear.

The intensity of the fear in panic disorder makes you handicapped. According to you, it makes you witness the last point of your life, i.e. Tragic Death. You often say that you have experienced hell and that you understand what it feels like going to hell.

YOU say you have become aware of what human suffering actually is.

You say that people claim “life is about being brave” but you respond that “you say that because you don’t know what panic actually is.” Also, you respond that “when you will suffer a panic attack you will understand what bravery and dare are.”

You say that till now you felt life is beautiful, fun and joy. But now you claim that it is not so and that you cannot escape these physical and mental pains which are destined to you !

(But of course, this is not the case. You are thinking everything the wrong way. That’s for sure. 1001 %)

7. You often feel weird and like going crazy. Right?

Sometimes YOU feel that the world is unreal. Whatever is going  on around is a drama. During the beginning phase of the panic attack, you feel the sense of unreality and feel that whatever you are doing is unreal and insignificant. You feel to quit everything and run away !

Because of this, you suspect that you might be going crazy. You already have heard that how people behave or do when they go crazy. You believe that the same is happening to you. It bothers a lot.

 (But the truth is that scientists found that panic disorder does not make you go  crazy !) 

0Read: Intrusive Thoughts in Panic Disorder

ALL these things related to panic disorder are paradoxical

You might have read or heard that panic is a safety alarm system of the body and it exists to save you from life-threatening situations and circumstances.

But you often ask that, if it is so then why panic is so disabling to sufferers?

If it is such a helpful thing why is it so unpleasant, coming in a disproportionate way devastating mental peace and life confidence?

Well,

The secret to all these questions lies in the paradoxical nature panic disorder.
The secret of managing and curing panic disorder are :
  1. To understand that panic intensifies if you fear it and resist it.
  2. To understand that panic fades away iff you embrace it and demand it on the contrary.

The preconscious thoughts you commonly get are:

“I am not safe”

“I am going crazy”

“The earth itself is not safe”

“Death is all I have”

“To cry is all I have in the end”

And what not…..?

(Nothing more painful than these feelings)

Am I right?

It is extreme. It is extreme to such an extent that it appears unnatural. It has made you think you have been a victim of an intimidating dread which is dragging you towards a fatal event.

The fears which you are feeling are just emotions arising in your mind. But you catastrophize them obsessively and expect negative outcomes in real life.

Fear is such a thing which cannot exist in isolation. Whenever you feel any fear it is the habit of the human brain to associate that fear with something in the real life in the material world. It may be a thing, event or outcome.

In your case,

You have associated your fears with life, success, fate, destiny and death.

What are the habits of people with panic disorder?

Now, that you are catastrophizing everything, this is what panic sufferers actually do:

Panic prone individuals have the habit of experiencing pain and distress at the perception level. For example, while watching TV, if they see a leopard chasing and killing a deer on they feel the fear and pain the deer is experiencing while dying. They obsess over how the deer felt while dying, how it wriggled while dying and then eventually they begin to think about their own death, like, will they die a natural death or die of cancer or an accident………….(panic).

This is the mental condition and the altered psychological constitution of the panic disorder sufferers.

 You are not crazy or have gone insane or psychotic

 You just have changed your “perception of perceptions” which has captivated them in the vicious cycle of dread and the weird feelings. 

We are going to discuss and learn a lot of things on this blog to manage and recover from panic disorder.

Stay tuned