Envision this: You, an Engineering student are asked to give an impromptu speech on the topic, ‘Iatrogenic incidents causing Peripheral Neuropathies’ in front of a large audience. With the spotlight ironically beaming at you, you cheerlessly stand up. An immediate prey to a hundred unforgiving predators. You pin your hopes on the internet but your phone’s battery just died. Do you feel numb though your heart is racing at 50 mph? You are experiencing a panic attack my friend!
What precisely is a panic attack? Is it a real medical condition? How analogous is it to a fear or phobia? A panic attack is an intense feeling of terror with no real danger, accompanied by physical discomforts like dizziness and shortness of breath. Panic attacks are interrelated to phobias as the latter can trigger the former and lead to an inevitable fear of an entity or situation. Paradoxically, the apprehension of having a panic attack is in itself an added menace to a phobia. There are many symptoms that indicate such an episode, the foremost clear-cut sign being losing control of your body in an instant.
The ‘fight or flight’ response; which is the self-activating reaction to acute stress, plays a cardinal role. The hormone ‘adrenaline’ surges into the bloodstream and the heartbeat quickens, driving more blood to the muscles. This results in the escalation of glucose levels and the senses get vehement. Adrenaline can augment up to twice it’s normal level.
The primary causes for such incidents could include a variety of reasons such as family genetics, paramount lifestyle changes like a divorce or a history of childhood abuse. While a panic attack can be misconstrued as a heart attack, it is fundamental to analyze the variation and act appositely. To abate the overwhelming effects, visualizing an idyllic environment with everything under your control can be effective. In simpler terms, we must try to mentally visit our ‘Happy place’. Psychotherapy or talk-therapy can aid in coping with the ordeal by sharing one’s frightful experience.
This mechanism is a psychological affair; it unfolds as we approach a horrendous scenario. We tend to recall past interactions and our response to it. For instance, a person who is petrified of dogs, when accounting a paltry bark from his/her surroundings can revive revolting recollections that will add to their anxiety.
Though attacks are associated with physical happenings, it is indeed a game of the mind. It is our negative thoughts and interpretations that we must vanquish in order to procure control. Remember, panic attacks don’t have to overwhelm you. You are much stronger than you seem.