Get rid of fear: anxiety and panic attacks

Panic attack refers to a brief period of intense fear that at least four of the following appear suddenly and reach up within a few minutes: palpitations (beating strong and rapid), sweating, shaking, feeling of choking or strangulation (‘ lump in throat ‘), fear of death, loss of control or to not go off, feeling of dizziness, vertigo or faintness, chest pain, numbness, tingling, chills, waves of heat, nausea, feelings of unreality or detachment. Anxiety refers to a fear without an obvious reason, as if something bad is going to happen. Sounds familiar or you are the only one who lived sometime so something?

Imagine that, all of a sudden, without any obvious reason, you have the symptoms of a panic attack. The first time we think it’s because of tiredness, stress, coffee, cigarettes, etc. When the condition recurs, we have serious questions and we appeal to the medical advice, which postulates that a certain symptom betrays a physical illness, for example, accelerate heartbeat shows that something is wrong with your heart; start consultations and medical tests. Anxiety can mimic any kind of disease. The investigations come out well, the moment we stay calm, but then we become worried and get our legitimate question: “why do I feel so sick and the doctors tell me that I don’t have anything? Can I have a serious undetected illness”.

Usually, the diagnosis of “spasmophilia” is the label of many anxiety disorders remained undiscovered due to similar symptoms. Even if a calcium and magnesium deficiency is common in people with anxiety, he cannot explain itself thoughts of danger and fear intense characteristic of a panic attack. We begin distrust in doctors and we’ll go to seek answers by making visits to a priest,  acupuncture, homeopathy, etc.

Gradually, it installs a permanent fear of repeat symptoms which leads to an excessive concentration of the body or psyche obsessively checked, making everyday activities difficult. For example, a person always careful with heart beat will charge various bodily sensations, interpreted as signs of disease, when in fact they are natural events, but not been taken into consideration before because the person  didn’t focus on them.

Then we begin to correlate symptoms with certain situations and avoid the things that we think would cause the states: exercise, stressful topics, loneliness, crowded places and, in general, those in which “the escape” would be difficult or embarrassing (agoraphobia), leaving the city etc. Don’t leave home without medications or a bottle of water, call an ambulance or emergency, call the closed ones, bewildered by what is going on. We feel sick and behave as such. Conflicts arise with the others, who do not understand what happens to us and tend to be too protective, worried or make angered critics and these tensions aggravate the symptoms.

Now, let’s imagine that we live in a real danger: for example, we are attacked by a dog. Our brain secretes adrenalin because we’re gifted by construction with a program defiance in emergency situations (sympathetic nervous system), for the purposes of survival instinct; as a result, the physical and mental manifestations appear similar to panic attack: fear, palpitations, tremor, straining, etc. These reactions are useful because, in the face of danger, we can opt for two strategies (flee or fight); breath is accelerating, the heart pumps more energetic, body temperature increases that tends to overheat, the muscles are contracted, etc. in order to prepare your body for the best adaptive reaction to that stressful situation. After the incident, we are addressing a physician, suspecting any disease? No, because instinctively, we tie the visible threat sensations or simply do not notice them, being anxious to find a way of escape. The symptoms are similar to those from a panic attack, the major difference being is that it does not perceive a real threat around.

The fact that the danger lies in, not out, is a good news and the basis of any endeavor of psychotherapy, in the idea that change involves a change in thinking at the level of bodily sensations, emotions, and behavior. Anxiety can be a wake-up call that something in our life goes wrong, something that we are less aware or not because we are afraid of change. This danger is perceived by the human brain just as intense as a foreign aggression and physiological reaction is similar. It may be an aspect of family life, social, professional or spiritual. That’s why psychotherapy is often an effort of some profound changes in personnel and a transformation of human suffering in evolution.

Don’t worry: anxiety does not mean that we are sick.

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