A few days ago I was invited to a birthday party, and while enjoying myself and the company of others, I was asked, all of a sudden, the question – so “what do you think of the panic attacks”? First I was pleasantly surprised by the fact, that despite being part of a social event, someone from the group still fell the need to talk about these “things”, i.e. for the panic attacks and felt that it was the appropriate time and space!
(DSM IV, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines a panic attack as “a discrete period in which there is a sudden onset of intense apprehension, fearfulness, or terror, often associated with feelings of impending doom. During these attacks, symptoms such as shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, choking or smothering sensations, and fear of “going cracy” or losing control are present”), p. 429, 2000.
Of course the reason of the question, as I only found out later, was very much related to his personal story – that is the person was suffering from major panic attacks in the past but with the help of a mental health professional as well as his own determination, he was able to control the symptoms and understand when these symptoms were lurking! Wanting to minimise the duration and the length of the discussion, we avoided getting into too many details, such as the reasons behind them.
However, reflecting on this specific incident, I realised once more how important it is to have as much information as possible about the onset of the symptoms, but also the triggers behind them, ie. too much stress, major career change, etc.
By watching the following short video, you will be able to understand how panic attacks can act like an internal GPS, leading towards the wrong direction…
Eva Lychrou is a psychotherapist based in London and in Athens, helping people deal with family issues, relationship difficulties and self development in general.
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