Panic Attack?

Posted , 5 users are following.

Can someone describe a panic attack please?

I seem to have them but not sure; I don't really notice my breathing or heart rate change but I become very weak and dizzy, would this be considered a panic attack?

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  • Posted

    When I get panic attacks, I usually get really breathless and dizzy and then I will probably start to become upset and will start crying. My legs will become wobbly and won't be able to walk anywhere and if I try I will almost definitely fall over.

    I think that feeling dizzy is definitely a sign of a panic attack, and feeling week. Do you have any of the things that I have said? My doctor had said to me (the first time this happened, as I got really freaked out) it definitely sounded like a panic attack?

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  • Posted

    It could be, but it doesn't sound to me as if there are enough symptoms. There could be lots of other reasons for your symptoms. Best to go and see your doctor about this.
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    • Posted

      That's great news. It means you don't have anything too serious. Although the symptoms aren't the classic ones, these could still be panic attacks. I was just re-reading the posts on here and have noticed the bit where Aimee talks about not being able to move and feeling as if she's going to fall over. This brought to mind something I hadn't really thought about for more than 40 years and reminded me that not all panic attacks have the classic symptoms.

      In my mid-teens I started having weird attacks where I couldn't walk across open spaces. I know it sounds crazy, but I used to feel as if my whole body had turned round and was facing in the opposite direction from the one I was trying to walk in. (It hadn't, of course.) I couldn't tell anyone about it as this was the 1950s, when this kind of behaviour was severely punished both at home and at school, and there was no internet in those days. I suffered in silence, getting into trouble with both my parents and my teachers, as well as being ridiculed by the other girls.

      I realise you don't have this particular problem, but the weakness and dizziness you describe sound like the effects of hyperventilation. That's when you breathe too fast and too deep when you get anxious but without being aware of it. I used to do that too.

      I started training as a nurse at the age of 20, and this was still happening then. We worked in the old, open "Nightingale" wards and I often had to screw up my courage to walk down the wards if there weren't many other nurses around to fill up the empty space. The anxiety would bring on hyperventilation, with all the trembling, dizziness and nausea that can cause. Helped by my training, I eventually realised that this was simply a form of anxiety that I'd have to learn to cope with. Once I came to that realisation it started getting better, though it took a long time to stop. I think I must have had my last attack in my late 20s.

      I dealt with the hyperventilation by forcing myself to breathe less deeply and less often than I felt I wanted to during these attacks. It's quite hard to do, as your body is trying to convince you you need to breathe more, not less. But if you can control your breathing for half a minute at a time then allow yourself to take just one or two big gulps of air before controlling your breathing again, you'll find you'll eventually come out of it.

      Things have changed these days, and help is available for this kind of disorder. If you decide you want this help, you should go back to your GP. However, I still think it's better in the long run if you can learn to do it without medication. For one thing, all medications have side-effects - and sometimes even worse withdrawal effects - and overcoming it yourself will give you a greater sense of control over your mind and body in all areas of your life.

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