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Panic Attacks: The Ugly Truth

May 16, 2008
To begin I want to hit you with some numbers. Did you know that 5 percent of the American population suffers from panic attacks? One in three of those people will develop agoraphobia. And women are three times more likely than men to suffer with this disorder.

Wow; those numbers are a lot higher than I had imagined they would be. Maybe that is because I used to suffer with panic attacks and I know the hardship they can bring. I also know that there is a certain stigma associated with admitting that there is anything wrong with you that may relate to the brain in some way.

My background is in nursing; psychiatric nursing to be exact. And many times as I drove along the interstate to the hospital I found myself experiencing a panic attack. I would be forced to pull my car over to the curb and wait the attack out.

If you have never experienced a panic or anxiety attack then you will not relate to what I am saying. But if you have you will certainly understand. I could be driving along having a nice thought, singing along with the radio, when suddenly; out of nowhere I would be completely overwhelmed by an intense sense of dread.

I would initially begin back-tracking in my mind, wondering irrelevant things like, did I turn the iron off, are my kids okay, or, when is the last time I did this or that, but the feelings of dread would steadily increase. I would soon realize the dread was not related to any of those things but I could not stop it.

You see, it does not matter that the fear and dread do not make sense; what does matter is that the sufferer feels the dread and fear. And the body responds to that fear just as it would any other fear.

The Fight or Flight Response begins. Your heart begins pounding and it becomes difficult to breathe. There is a strong desire to escape from where you are; after all, you are in danger. You have feelings and fears of losing complete control, even of going crazy.

Okay, I admit it, that describes my panic attacks...but some people suffer more intensely and some have attacks that are not quite as severe. Mine were bad enough to impact on my life. I learned to avoid certain situations. However, I did not become agoraphobic.

I can easily see how the pattern can begin and continue, with the panic attack sufferer feeling increasingly safer at home and thus staying at home more and more, until eventually he/she rarely leaves the house. How sad for them. Depression can be another obvious consequence of this anxiety disorder.

The good news is there are techniques available to help sufferers end the misfortune they have been dealing with. If you suffer from panic or anxiety attacks, or even if you have reached the point of staying at home (agoraphobia), do not give up, you can get the help you need and take control of your life; live it to the max!
About the Author
To learn more about techniques that can end the nightmare of dealing with panic attacks visit:
Before working from home on the internet Debbie Allen was a psychiatric nurse and later an Organizational Development Practitioner.
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