Panic Attacks and Panic Attack Symptoms
Panic Attacks are most often described as an experience of spontaneous panic symptoms that seem to come from out of the blue.
The intensity of the attack can be extremely severe and many people feel they are having a heart attack an/or are going to die or are going insane. It is not unusual for people to become chronically anxious about having another one thereby developing avoidant strategies leading to phobias, including agoraphobia.
I have found over the years that my clients can experience a difference in the nature of their panic attacks. Three different types of panic attacks have now been commonly recognized.
SPONTANEOUS PANIC ATTACKS...
this type of attack is mostly associated to Panic Disorder. This panic attack comes without any warning, day or night, and appears to be irrespective of what the person is doing. The spontaneous attack does not seem to be related to and is not induced by any particular situation or place. Many people can be awakened from sleep with this type of attack. Many clients will say that these attacks "came from out of the blue". My experience has been that spontaneous panic attacks happen most often when a person is actually relaxing, or is in that zone while driving and the mind is wandering, or while staring at the television and their mind is again, wandering and not focused on anything of importance.
CUED PANIC ATTACKS...
these occur in relation to specific feared situations or places. For example, social situations for people with Social Phobia. Or consider the individual who revisits the scene or scenes reminiscent of the traumatic events such as a serious car accident.
SITUATIONALLY PREDISPOSED PANIC ATTACKS...
people with Panic Disorder may experience this type of attack. Some people with Panic Disorder can be predisposed to having panic attacks in certain situations or places, although they are not frightened of the situation or place. A very common example is when someone may experience panic attacks while driving their car. Sometimes they will have them, other times they won't. They seem to be predisposed to having attacks while driving, but the attacks are not a response to a fear of driving.
Panic Attacks are sometimes caused by our reactions to traumas, whether accidents or health traumas. They can be experienced as part of the adjustment to conditions such as hyperthyroidism, hypoglycemia and certain hormone imbalances. However, I have found that the majority of panic attacks are caused more from inner conflicts and issues where a person needs to feel a greater sense of control in their lives. So, for example, a Care-giving personality who represses their own needs in order to focus on the needs of others. Although it causes them to feel a sense of worth and value being there for others, in time, they begin to feel that their needs have been ignored. They may feel anger and resentment, yet still not express their needs since they do not want to appear needy. But their need to be taken care of too has then been ignored which causes much inner conflict and symptoms.
Often counseling is necessary to uncover what the real issues are since we are so good at repressing or avoiding dealing with these issues. The pain of the panic attack symptoms tends to become the focus of all our attention and we ignore the sources. Think about it !
I do not often find panic attacks to be a cause of, or caused by serious pathological disorder. I would recommend talking to your primary care doctor and seeking therapy with a psychologist that specializes in the treatment of these symptoms. You can call the American Psychological
Association Referral line, at 1.800.964.2000. Or, come join us in our Support Groups or take advantage of our Private Coaching.