Stress - Panic attacks
Panic attacks are common. It is estimated that one in twenty people suffer them on a regular basis. If you experience this trauma, look around the office or pub and do a head count — it is unlikely that you are alone.
The symptoms of a panic attack are an extreme version of the fight-or-flight response, sometimes leading to collapse. The severe symptoms can mimic a heart attack, although panic attacks in themselves are not life threatening.
Many anxiety sufferers get themselves into a behaviour loop whereby fear sends alert messages to the brain that in turn creates feelings of panic which further fuels their distress symptoms.
The panic attack flow chart:
â€¦ Anxiety induces quick breathing .....message sent to brain that danger is near .... threat of danger increases anxiety .... fight-or-flight response triggered ... rapid, shallow breathing causes too much oxygen to be inhaled and too much carbon dioxide to be exhaled ... chemical imbalance occurs in blood causing anxiety symptoms ... fear fuels attack by sending more messages to the brain to act against danger ... perceived threat rarely materialises but body remains highly aroused without cause ... quick breathing becomes a habit, triggering more panic attacks ...anxiety â€¦
Most cases of panic attacks can be dealt with by self-help measures. If you suffer from persistent or severe panic attacks, however, see your GP.
Page created on July 14th, 2003
Page updated on December 1st, 2009