Anxiety and panic can grip even the strongest among us. 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.
The most important thing to remember is that panic attacks are not life-threatening and they are very treatable.
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. If you or someone you know suffers from panic attacks, find a skilled therapist. There's no need to suffer. I have been treating panic attacks for years and it has been my experience that most clients feel relief immediately.