Don't Panic!


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      Your head starts spinning, your heart feels like it's going to beat out of your chest, and your throat quickly closes up, as sweat begins to drip down your fear-stricken face.  The second you feel as if you are going to die, the fear slowly begins to fade away, and you become one with reality again.  Ladies and gentlemen, you just suffered from a panic attack. stop-panic-attacks.jpg
      Panic attacks are symptoms of an anxiety disorder that effect about 60 million Americans at some point in their life.  Contrary to a heat attack, panic attacks can effect people of all ages, starting mainly at age 15, and escalating up to adult years.  Similar to a heart attack, panic attacks hit you instantly, while being unexpected and disabling. Panic in general often occurs twice as often in women as men, but boys and girls tend to experience it equally.  For us women out there, this sounds completely unfair and unfortunate, and in fact, it is.  According to a Times of India article, exact reasoning behind this is unclear, but there are connections that could explain it.  Research states that more women suffer from migraines and headaches than men, and head pain has been linked to the onset of panic attacks.  To prove this, one study was done specifically targeting women who suffer from panic attacks, and it was shown that all of these women also suffer from migraines, resulting in their attacks being more frequent and longer lasting.  Another study was done focusing on post-menopausol women and women with tragic life events, which also resulted in common and long-lasting panic.  A third study focused on older women with cardiovascular complications, and concluded that this category of women were also prone to panic attacks.  
      Contrary to these women focused studies, other researchers feel that the fundamentals of panic attacks are based off of serotonin levels which play a role in the "fight or flight" response. Due to the fact that people of all genders have serotonin levels, this researcher is implying that both men and women could equally suffer from panic attacks, and that menopause and cardiovascular complications do not necessarily play a role.  
      Another aspect of panic attacks is the fear of them recurring.  This term is known as agoraphobia, or "the unrelenting fear of a situation, activity, or thing that causes one to want to avoid it."  Regardless of gender, a percentage of those who suffer from panic attacks can also suffer from agoraphobia, thus increasing the severity of their attacks.  
      Regardless of your age, gender, or whether or not you suffer from agoraphobia, everything boils down to what exactly is a panic attack?  According to Discovery Health, when the body experiences fear, the sympathetic nervous system causes muscles to tense, adrenal glands swell, production of sweat, and an increased heart rate.  In conclusion, Dr. Sikora states that although men and women can face panic attacks at different frequencies and for different reasons, they can occur in all body types, shapes and forms, even in those you would least expect.  In the wise words of Kobe Bryant, "If I panic, everyone else panics," so please, everyone breathe. 

2 Comments

As stated above one famous figure who suffers from panic attacks is Kobe Bryant, to my surprise there are actually many famous figures who also suffer from the same thing, including Princess Diana and Scarlett Johansson. When Diana would have an attack, she suffered mainly from crying and uncontrollable shaking, yet always managed to compose herself in a timely manor. As for Scarlett, her panic attacks always arose when in front of the camera, and stated that she felt as if she were 'nearly dead from anxiety.' Both of these women were able to overcome their panic attacks, so a great way for others to do so is by following the five steps.
1. Acknowledge and Accept
2. Wait and Watch
3. Actions
4. Repeat
5. End
To learn more about each step individually, check out the site below.
http://www.anxietycoach.com/overcoming-panic-attacks.html

I tend to be an extremely calm, laid back, and always happy person. However, since I do not let out emotions often, after lots and lots of build up of emotion I would say I have a random moment of freaking out twice a year. I do not think it is "unfair" that women are more prone to panic attacks, because women tend to have more emotional and hormonal stress than men do. I am fine with agreeing that I can be like a ticking time bomb. My calm, cool and collected attitude, turns to a panic WWIII. I panic, stress, cry, and cannot control it. But honestly, it feels great after that because it is terrible to hold in emotion and stressful thoughts. Crying and being angry at times can actually be good for your health. Just like laughter is good for you, so is crying and here is why: http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/why-crying-is-good-for-your-health-1418902

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