I once had a bad panic attack in the North Miami Whole Foods parking lot. My heart was racing and I feared something terrible was about to happen. I could not get out of the car or even think about driving home. Thankfully, I was able to reach a friend who came to the rescue and offered to drive me home.
I was going through life changes that triggerd an adrenaline response. I can see that in hindsight, but at the time, I felt helpless to it.
When you push yourself to areas outside your comfort zone, or you negelct your needs, you are bound to experience moments of anxiety and panic. It is not a sign of weakness, it's an invitation to stop, breathe and practice self-care.
I have successfully treated many people, including elite althletes, students and corporate leaders who have let stress build until panic attacks.
A panic attack is defined by the American Psychiatric Association, http://www.apa.org as a period of intense fear or discomfort in which four or more of the following symptoms developed abruptly and reached a peak within 10 minutes:
- Pounding heart
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feeling of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded or faint
- Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Fear of dying
- Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations)
- Chills or hot flashes.
One of the most severe cases of panic that I have ever treated was a young woman from Miami who experienced such an intense attack that she could not move her limbs for several minutes. She was rushed to the hospital where they ran a battery of tests and concluded that it was a panic attack. The hospital referred her to me. I suggested some life changes and her panic went away in four sessions.
My mentor Dr. Janet Klosko co-authored a book with Dr. William Sanderson entitled “ Cognitive Behavioral-Treatment of Depression.” In the book, they write about the three laws of anxiety:
- Panic attacks are not dangerous.
- Panic attacks always end.
- Exposure decreases anxiety and panic attacks while avoidance increases anxiety.
We don't believe the answer lies in medication, but in education and meditation. If you or someone you know suffers from panic attacks, contact us.