Panic Attacks — Out With the Myths
Misinformation does not only create vague pictures of a condition but will also likely cause people to believe things that do not actually exist. Among those conditions that typically receive serious amounts of myths are psychological and behavioral disorders, partly because psychological conditions are often hard to understand and seem mysterious. In this article, we would try to debug the myths of one of the more common behavioral conditions – panic attacks.
People with panic attacks are crazy. Crazy is never a good term for people with psychological conditions and people with panic attacks are hardly crazy. They may seem deranged and a bit psychotic for some people when they experience attacks of panic and terror but this does not suggest that they are.
As if to add to the insult, people with panic attacks are sometimes perceived to have schizophrenia, the most advanced form of psychosis which is marked by severe auditory and visual hallucination as well as aggravated delusions and dysfunctional thoughts. Clearly, there is no relationship between people who feel like they are “going crazy” when undergoing attacks and people who have advanced (and even minor) psychological conditions.
People with panic attacks lose control. Wrong. Panic attacks do not rob a person his sense of control. While a person’s thoughts may seem distorted for a while during attacks due to physical symptoms that lend themselves towards this possibility such as shortness of breath and heart attack-like symptoms, this does not mean that the person is losing grip of the reality. Anxiety which normally accompanies panic attacks is a body’s way to tell you that something is going wrong. Since this is a defense mechanism, it is not dangerous to anyone, not even the person undergoing the panic attack.
It is good to remember that panic attack happens only in the mind, it may, in fact, be unnoticeable for people surrounding the person during the attack. What exacerbates the attack is the person’s conscious thought that it could cause embarrassment or harm to other people. It is the sense of losing control of one’s self that makes the condition worse, a thought that is manufactured in the brain, never the total lack of sense of control.
People with panic attacks have chronic heart disorders. While this may be partly true due to the link between mitral valve prolapse and panic attacks, this does not make the assertion entirely valid. People have good reasons to believe that they are having heart attacks or heart failures when they experience episodes of panic attacks since some of the symptoms of both conditions are similar. But such symptoms are perfectly rational when seen from the viewpoint of elevated fear.
For example, people subjected under conditions that stimulate fear experience tightening of the chest, faster heart beat, profuse perspiration, shortness of breath and increased respiration. All these signs are also symptoms of heart attacks which make it easy for most people to believe that instead of having a disorder of the mind, they are having dysfunctional hearts. But then again, similarity in symptoms does not make two completely different conditions alike.
Myths often offer a semblance of the reality that is not hard to believe in. But do not be fooled. Knowing what is the exact truth and not the half lies may serve you well when dealing with conditions that root from and are aggravated by thoughts.