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A panic attack is a sudden burst of fears that can intensify which can include racing heartbeats, sweating, shortness of breath, numbness, nausea, and other symptoms described here. They can last a couple of minutes to an hour. For those who have never suffered one, it may be hard to understand them. Some of you may be wondering what it feels like to have a panic disorder which is recurring panic attacks.
What a panic disorder can be compared to? Many people feel like they were dying while others feel like shocking. My husband compared it with an explosion slowly taking place while I felt like a train rushing towards me.
If you have never experienced one you may be wondering what to do when a relative or friend is having one. Our article “How to help someone having a panic attack” is a great source of information that explains the best way to assist a loved one or even a stranger suffering sudden and intense fears. It is a great guide for those whose family or friends who are experiencing panic disorder and do not know how to help.
We will share effective ways to control them, common misconceptions, and more. Now, we will discuss how they can differ from one person to another.
Why panic disorder affects everyone differently?
The symptoms are different for each person. For some people, they can be uncontrollable and so intense that can be mistaken for a heart attack. Therefore, it is very important to seek emergency care if the sufferer is not sure.
They vary in intensity, frequency, symptoms, and duration for each person because each situation is different and the way we perceive things. A health problem, life event, or stress can be the cause. We have discussed the causes in-depth here.
Some people will take less time controlling a panic attack than others. That would depend on their lifestyle, stress levels, physical condition. habits, and financial situation. In other words, mental health is affected by anything.
For example, have you heard someone complaining about something that is too much for them? Well, in some cases, we may think that this individual was overacting. However, stress causes people to behave this way which can trigger the panic disorder.
How we all react to distressing times can make a big difference. Those who don’t follow effective stress management techniques are more likely to suffer from panic disorder. That’s the reason why excessive worries can be very intense in some people more than others.
How does it REALLY feel when having a panic disorder
We explained some of the symptoms that manifest when someone is having a panic attack. We also have an article covering this topic here.
However, many sufferers have compared them to losing control or being under the water. How does it feel for you? Sometimes, they are so hard to describe.
Many sufferers feel like going crazy. Like me, some need to talk while others want to be alone.
Keep in mind that if you have never suffered one but you know someone who suffers them it is best to support and listen. No matter how they compare a panic attack this is not fun although they can be treated.
If you do not know what to say to a loved one who is experiencing this anxiety disorder it is totally understandable. You can find very effective solutions here.
11 myths about panic disorder explained
Believe it or not, there is little knowledge about panic attacks. There are misconceptions and fallacies that mislead people who want to help their relatives suffering from uncontrollable fears. That’s why I always say that what prevents peoples’ ability to control them or to help others who suffer them is the lack of information.
As part of being informed, we want to share the following 11 myths to help you take important steps to fight panic attacks:
Stress cause panic disorder
Although panic attacks may make you feel a lot of tension they can also be triggered by health issues, family or personal problems, genetic causes.
It is very important that if you have had the symptoms such as palpitations, trembling, or sweaty palms but you are not sure, it is best to seek medical assistance.
They cannot be cured
Panic attacks are manageable and in many cases can be curable. Our post “Can you overcome panic disorder? We can help you” is a great guide where you can find effective ways to fight them.
It may take time to fight panic disorder depending on your commitment and willingness. Small lifestyle changes are a good start.
People who suffer them are overacting
You may be wondering what it feels like to have a panic attack and might be thinking that the sufferer is a drama queen.
This is a common misconception that I have heard many times. When the symptoms manifest, we may feel like we are losing control. On many occasions, we have just to wait until the symptoms go away. That’s why they are so scary.
It happens when the person is stressed
A panic attack can be experienced out of the blue while you are at a party, having a great time or even seated on your sofa watching TV. I remember suffering one while I was dancing and even exercising!
Actually, you can experience it when you are sleeping or during a humid day in the summer. The bottom line is that it can be experienced anytime.
They are dangerous
Although panic attack symptoms can mimic those of a heart attack they are not dangerous in the short term. They are treatable and one can lead a normal life. However, some of the symptoms can be very intense and uncomfortable that some may feel the need to be medicated to help deal with it.
Medications are the only remedy for panic disorder
Although many people have experienced an improvement using prescribed drugs, the truth is that panic attacks can be defeated without any medicines. We are perfect examples of this.
Nevertheless, some individuals may need prescriptions to make the transition to recovery.
From breathing techniques to positive thinking, there are effective strategies to help you control them naturally.
However, I don’t encourage you to quit any medical treatment or prescribed drugs. It is best to speak to your doctor if you are considering this possibility.
Panic disorder and anxiety attack are the same
While panic attacks are sudden and uncontrollable intense fear, anxiety is an excessive worry about something anticipated such as the first day at school.
Panic attacks can happen at any time while anxiety can happen in a stressful event. They are different and can manifest at the same time. I had anxiety first which triggered them.
As of right now, “anxiety attacks” have not been recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). According to the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM-5 “defines and classifies mental disorders in order to improve diagnoses, treatment, and research.”
You cannot help a panic attack sufferer
If you don’t know how it feels to have a panic disorder you may think you can’t help someone experiencing it. Yes, you can assist any relative or friend suffering one. While you can offer support and stay informed, you can follow our helpful tips and suggestions here.
Avoiding stressful situations will help improve symptoms
I always wanted to stay at home to avoid another one. This way of thinking did not help me a bit. Confronting difficult situations is the best way to learn how to control a panic disorder.
Facing your fears will make them worse
If flying can trigger your panic attack, you may want to learn how to conquer your fear. That’s what I did and now flying is a piece of cake. However, It took some positive thinking and affirmations to prepare me before a trip.
Alcohol can help relieve panic disorder.
Although alcoholic drinks may relax some, they can make them worse. If you suffer from panic attacks quitting alcohol is a great step towards beating them.
How to explain it to your spouse, friend or relative
Panic attacks, not only affects the sufferer but the spouse, relatives, and circle of friends. Therefore, if you are certain that you have a panic disorder it is very important to explain to them how they make you feel.
Unfortunately, many individuals do not have the knowledge which is important to understand the panic disorder and to learn how to help you when the moment comes.
Before explaining them it is very important that you educate yourself so you can share valuable and useful information. Remember, knowledge is key. If you do not remain informed you can’t help them or understand this anxiety disorder.
I remember telling my mother about my panic attacks and she answered that I need to relax. Thanks to my knowledge, I explained to her that it takes more than a “Relax” button to control them and the importance to remain informed.
Being proactive, specific, and able to answer their questions can help. Also, there are brochures or pamphlets that can be shared with your family. In addition, our posts are a great source of information you can share as well.
Now, it is very important that you tell someone you really trust. Not everyone can be understanding, compassionate, patient, and be serious about it.
We hope that our article “How does a panic disorder feel like? You really need to know.” has been a great help. Panic disorder is complicated. Informing yourself about them can help you fight them or help others.
They are treatable and manageable. However, you can conquer panic attacks and eliminate them through determination and commitment.
B.L.A. is a web developer/designer and writer who enjoys country life in western Pennsylvania, USA along with her husband C.C.A, who is also a contributor, co-author, and editor.
Check out their other blog SmartAroundyourWrist.com.