I have received so many emails lately regarding this subject. Everyone wants to know the answer to “Why is this happening to me?” There are many reasons and no one answer that applies universally. Everyone is different. I can try and help you understand what is happening to your body, however, during a panic attack. I will try and answer as best I can, with a little help from Dr. Reneau Z. Peurifoy, author of Anxiety, Phobias, and Panic
The Fight or Flight Response
Your sympathetic nervous system is what controls the fight or flight response. This is also something considered in a benzo rehab. When it is triggered, it shuts down all “nonessential activity” and prepares the body to either flee or fight the perceived threat.
What happens to your body when the fight or flight response kicks in?
Healthy anxiety should not interfere with relationships, careers and family settings. Anxiety should not prevent one from living one’s life in a way that is meaningful for that person. The feelings of anxiety can be very disruptive and confusing leading to even more serious problems. It is very important to remember that the symptoms and manifestations are very individual depending on the person.
The emotional symptoms are very intense and can become overwhelming if ignored. These symptoms include feelings of apprehension or dread, difficulty concentrating, feeling tense and jumpy, always anticipating the worst scenario in a situation, irritability due to tension, restlessness, a constant alertness for signs of danger, exaggerated startle response, and a feeling that one’s mind goes blank under pressure.
As with all emotional disorders there are physical manifestations that make the sense of anxiety even worse. The physical symptoms can include sweating, stomach upset, dizziness, shortness of breath, tremors or twitches, muscle tension, intense headaches, insomnia and fatigue. Often time’s people suffering with severe anxiety report a sense that they are having a heart attack. These physical symptoms can be debilitating, as well as frightening. The symptoms can also interfere with work and/or family life.
If left untreated these expressions of intense anxiety can become a full blown anxiety disorder. A person with such a disorder will avoid everyday situations, may be afraid to leave their home and may find their life seriously disrupted. Ignoring the symptoms can lead to chronic anxiety or panic attacks in which a person deals with a sense of terror. During a panic attack, people report being unable to breathe or even to request help. Panic attacks help to heighten anxiety because many people report becoming anxious about having another attack because the attacks themselves are so unpleasant.
Anxiety can be treated in couple of ways. Make time for oneself, being aware that the self is important in our hurried way of living too. Many people report daily meditation as being very helpful as it helps to relax a person and clear the mind. Exercise can also do a lot to relive tension and should become part of everyone’s daily routine. In addition, it is clearly important to develop a support group of friends and family that can listen to the parts of one’s life that are truly anxiety provoking.
If the practices listed above do not improve the situation then professional help can be very healing. Talk therapy, anti-anxiety medication and behavior therapy designed to change thinking and behavior can be very helpful. It is important to remember that these symptoms are very real and very overwhelming and if left untreated can lead to a serious anxiety disorder or suicide.
A Positive Attitude
Be aware that this is nothing to be ashamed of. Our society is one which places a lot of emphasis on success and achievement. In some high powered careers, leisure time is in fact looked down upon and the associated stress can easily get out of control. Get the help needed; take the time to care for the stress that is felt. In the long term, one will live a better more comfortable life.
At any given time wars are being waged somewhere on the planet. Yet, the majority of the earth’s people prefer peace. The fact that humans are still here—particularly in this thermonuclear age—demonstrates that history is on the side of those who spend their time and resources perpetuating kindness and optimism. With so many countries involved in the “war on terror” and witnessing regressing economies, it’s easy to see why families are anxious.
Al Qaeda and the Taliban are strengthening again
Radical groups that foster hate and depend on fear to achieve objectives often strengthen and weaken in a cyclical fashion. When confronted and consistently opposed, they lose momentum and ultimately rot on the vine. Don’t underestimate the power of human conviction—especially for good. Being guided by goodness and principle and acting in the best interest of the group (in this case the earth and its inhabitants) is the broader view that has historically been the path of wisdom and will no doubt be so in the future.
The Economy Will Collapse
Probably not. But even if it does, that takes one back to the resiliency of human beings. How do you think the economy became strong in the first place? Granted, there are spending habits and political matters to be addressed, but those are not the concern of this article. Amidst the news reports of financial doom and gloom is another story to tell. It is an epic. It is the saga of human beings finding a way to make great things happen. It is the testament to human creativity and ingenuity within the multigenerational transmission process.
The End Is Coming in 2020
Feel free to pack your bags and head for the airport, but you’re probably not going anywhere. People worry about the next four years–especially in the United States–but the passing of a month or a year or a century is unremarkable unless some import is imposed upon it. Many point to the Mayan calendar, Bible codes, or psychic readings. Regardless of one’s source of inspiration, it seems arrogant to assess dates for the end of all things. What, exactly, would that look like anyway? Since no one can actually demonstrate what the end will be, people are at a bit of a disadvantage as to the when and the how. Perhaps the best use of the time would be acting in the best interests of the group.
Thinking Through the Anxiety
Thinking is hard work. Thinking through anxiety is even harder. Recognizing the distinction between acute and chronic anxiety can be helpful. Acute anxiety is the by-product of what is: John’s fiancé just broke their engagement and he is distraught. Chronic anxiety is the result of what might be: Sally is preoccupied with the thought that a potential fiancé might break a future engagement; thus, she refuses to date. Chronic anxiety does not appear to be caused by anything in particular. It can usually be traced to a person’s response to disharmony within a given relationship system. What percentage of worldwide anxiety can be attributed to the question, “What if?”
Do global fears suggest a lack of togetherness or do they perhaps indicate an anxious togetherness where individual thinking and direction have been hijacked in favor of the herd mentality and reactionary strife? Think it through.