Most of the time the anxiety is mild and comes gradually without reaching great intensities. However, sometimes there are sudden attacks of serious and intense anxiety which we then call ‘panic’. Panic can come completely suddenly and without warning or be linked to other forms of anxiety and especially phobias.
What is happening to me;
Panic disorder involves intense, unexpected, and sudden attacks of anxiety that usually last a few minutes. During these attacks the person feels fear and believes that they are in danger and threatened physically (“I’m going to have a stroke or a stroke and die”), socially (“I’m going to lose control of my behavior and become resilient”) and mentally (” going crazy”).
A panic attack is accompanied by severe physical symptoms. It is considered complete if at least four of the following physical and psychological symptoms are present:
• Tachycardia and feeling of strong pulse
• Dizziness, feeling unsteady or faint
• Dyspnea (difficulty breathing or feeling suffocated)
• Chest pains or discomfort
• Feeling of suffocation
• Numbness or tingling throughout the body
• Nausea or upset stomach
• Hot flashes or chills
• Fear of impending death
• Fear of losing control of actions
• Fear of impending madness
When do panic attacks become a problem?
When repeated often enough, more than once. They have a significant impact on the person’s life since they change the functionality and physiological rhythms of the people who experience them. At the same time, without proper treatment, crises or attempts to avoid them can completely change a person’s life.
For example, it creates a fear of the outdoors in general, as one is afraid to go out of the house, in case of showing symptoms in front of others and without being somewhere where help is available. There is also a strong fear of death or loss of mental balance. This fear leads the person to limit their movements or to always be accompanied by someone else. In the end, they become more closed, introverted, conservative in their daily activity and this usually has a negative effect on improving the situation.
In various works it has been found that panic disorder may present 1%-1.5% of the population and is more common in women. The problem usually starts at a young age (between 20-30 years).
Why panic attacks?
Think of these crises as a strong physical alarm clock: it reminds you that there are problems that await resolution-reaction.
Perhaps there is in the person a strong desire for evolution, growth, change and passion for life, and on the other hand there is fear and doubt, ignorance of the costs and consequences of change. Both these opposite feelings exist in every personality. In the moments when within each person there is a strong disturbance of the balance of these two, that is where the crisis usually manifests itself. There is a fear of losing control. A typical example is the occurrence of panic attacks in young students who move away from the family. While they have a strong longing for progress, for change, for growth, for creation, at the same time they have a strong doubt “will I make it alone?” and fear of leaving the parental home to experience the consequences of independence.
The panic attack has something to say. A statement, which is for everyone different and important, and one must listen to it, understand it and make some decisions not only about his life, but also how to deal with it.
How do I deal with it?
Pharmacotherapy can help and enhance symptom relief, but drugs alone do not provide an effective response to the problem, which often tends to recur when only drugs are taken.
The best would be in combination with medication, to go through counseling or psychotherapy, where he will learn ways/techniques on how to handle such situations in the future. Most of the time the panic process leads individuals to fear the fear of panicking which creates and reinforces the vicious cycle of symptoms and makes the situation unbearable. Essentially, the fear of an impending panic attack creates the panic. Psychotherapy is particularly helpful for people experiencing this, as one can express and understand this vicious cycle that has been created and deal with it through the support provided.
It would also be good to consult your doctor, because the physical symptoms are very intense in panic attacks, and to rule out any organic cause for these symptoms.
At Counselling Kenya, our team of dedicated mental health specialists use tried and tested methods that address the root cause of mental health issues. To make an appointment with one of our licensed therapists, call 0741123944