9 Panic Attack Myths We Need To Stop Believing

Imagine that you’re walking down the street, when out of the corner of your eye you spot a semi-truck barreling toward you at an astronomical speed. Your instincts kick in and your stress level goes into overdrive. You have to move as fast as you can to get out of the way. For the next few moments, you feel like your life is hanging in the balance.

Now imagine dealing with that feeling when you’re casually shopping at the grocery store.

These intense episodes are an all-too-familiar reality for those who struggle with panic attacks and panic disorder — a mental health issue that many people still don’t understand, says Ricks Warren, Ph.D., a psychologist and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan. Below Warren highlights nine common misconceptions people believe about panic — even the ones that suffer from it.

Panic attacks are just an overreaction to stress.
stress

Panic attacks are more than just being “too worried” or “high strung.” They’re debilitating episodes that can last anywhere from a few moments to 10 minutes, Warren says. The body’s fight-or-flight response is triggered. As a result, sufferers can feel like they’re in danger and they work to avoid the source of the problem at all costs.

“They often feel shame about the fact that they have panic attacks and they feel the need to do all this avoidance,” he tells The Huffington Post. “It’s a major, major problem.”

You can pass out from a panic attack.
Fainting is caused by a dip in blood pressure and during these episodes your BP actually rises, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. While it may feel like you’re going to lose all control, it doesn’t necessarily happen, Warren says.

However, there are other very real physical symptoms of panic attacks. Due to the increase in blood pressure it can also feel like you’re having a heart attack (even though you’re not). You may experience chest pain, dizziness or difficulty breathing.

Panic attacks and anxiety are the same thing.
anxiety

While both are equally difficult to deal with, Warren stresses distinguishing just the episodes (i.e. one or two panic attacks) from disorders. Anxiety is more of an umbrella term, which can encompass panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and more.

“Anxiety is more worrying about something bad that could happen in the future, whether it’s in the next five minutes or later in the week,” he explained. “When [panic] starts affecting their life, when they start worrying about the next panic attack, when they start avoiding situations to prevent them, that’s what we would call panic disorder.”

You’re stuck with the disorder for the rest of your life.
“It’s a common misconception that [being diagnosed with panic disorder] means that you’ll be on medication for the rest of your life,” Warren said. There’s a huge stigma when it comes to mental health, which can make sufferers prolong getting help. However, the sooner you do so, the sooner you can control your panic.

Research shows that medications are effective, but so is Cognitive Behavioral Therapywithout medications or a combination of both, Warren added. “There’s also a myth that there isn’t any hope or any effective treatment, which isn’t true,” he said. Your doctor can help you determine which method works best for you.

It’s hard to relate to someone who has panic attacks.
friends talking

Remember that truck scenario from before? Chances are you can recall a time you’ve been in a similar situation where you needed to spring into action. Those are versions of panic attacks, Warren says. It’s just not as easy for some people to write them off.

Warren suggests practicing compassion the next time a loved one goes through the experience. “Listen and let the person tell you about what it is they’re experiencing,” he said. “Empathize. Think of a time in your own life when you’ve been terrified of something. It might have been external, but you still remember how terrifying that is.”

Panic is a gateway to a more serious mental illness.
Many people believe that being diagnosed with panic disorder or having a panic attack means they’re going to develop another serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. “Panic disorder is something that’s kind of in its own right,” he said. If you’re still worried, bring up your concerns with a mental health professional, he added.

Deep breaths will calm a panic attack.
hyperventilate

“We hear all the time that if you’re really anxious to take a deep breath — but with people who have panic attacks … you put yourself in a hyperventilation state,” Warren said. By inhaling deeply, you’re releasing extra carbon dioxide. This causes anincrease symptoms like dizziness and and numbness, which can make you feel like you’re suffocating and lead to more rapid, deep breaths. Focus on more shallow inhalations and exhalations instead.

Loved ones can’t help when someone is having a panic attack.
Panic attacks are a personal experience, which means each person who sufferers from one reacts differently than another. Some people may want you to talk them through it, others may want you to distract them, Warren explained. “The point is to try to respond non-judgmentally and get it from their point of view,” he said.

Looking for more ways to help? Check out these supportive phrases (and whatphrases you should avoid).

You should avoid what causes the episodes.
rollercoaster

It may be the first instinct to avoid whatever is causing you pain, but Warren advises to do quite the opposite. “Once you start avoiding places because you think you might have a panic attack, you start restricting your life,” he explained.

Engaging in “safety behaviors,” i.e. not going to places that will trigger the attack or even avoiding exciting movies that cause a rush of adrenaline, the sufferer may not learn that there’s nothing to fear in the first place, Warren says. The best way to manage them is to employ the CBT techniques or other methods that have been discussed with a professional.

Streams In The Desert: February 22nd, 2015

If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth  Mark 9:23 

Seldom have we heard a better definition of faith than was given once in one of our meetings, by a dear old colored woman, as she answered the question of a young man how to take the Lord for needed help.

In her characteristic way, pointing her finger toward him, she said with great emphasis: “You’ve just got to believe that He’s done it and it’s done.” The great danger with most of us is that, after we ask Him to do it, we do not believe that it is done, but we keep on helping Him, and getting others to help Him; and waiting to see how He is going to do it.

Faith adds its “Amen” to God’s “Yea,” and then takes its hands off, and leaves God to finish His work. Its language is, “Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him; and he worketh.”
–Days of Heaven upon Earth

I simply take Him at His word,
I praise Him that my prayer is heard,
And claim my answer from the Lord;
I take, He undertakes.

An active faith can give thanks for a promise, though it be not as yet performed; knowing that God’s bonds are as good as ready money.
–Matthew Henry

Passive faith accepts the word as true
But never moves.
Active faith begins the work to do,
And thereby proves.
Passive faith says, “I believe it! every word of God is true.
Well I know He hath not spoken what He cannot, will not, do.
He hath bidden me, ‘Go forward!’ but a closed-up way I see,
When the waters are divided, soon in Canaan’s land I’ll be.
Lo! I hear His voice commanding, ‘Rise and walk: take up thy bed’;
And, ‘Stretch forth thy withered member!’ which for so long has been dead.
When I am a little stronger, then, I know I’ll surely stand:
When there comes a thrill of heating, I will use with ease My other hand.
Yes, I know that ‘God is able’ and full willing all to do:
I believe that every promise, sometime, will to me come true.”
Active faith says, “I believe it! and the promise now I take,
Knowing well, as I receive it, God, each promise, real will make.
So I step into the waters, finding there an open way;
Onward press, the land possessing; nothing can my progress stay.
Yea, I rise at His commanding, walk straightway, and joyfully:
This, my hand, so sadly shrivelled, as I reach, restored shall be.
What beyond His faithful promise, would I wish or do I need?
Looking not for ‘signs or wonders,’ I’ll no contradiction heed.
Well I know that ‘God is able,’ and full willing all to do:
I believe that every promise, at this moment can come true.”
Passive faith but praises in the light, When sun doth shine.

Active faith will praise in darkest night– Which faith is thine?
–Selected