What are some of the most common myths about panic attacks? I know many people don’t understand them, and because they feel so terrible we even believe some of the things our panic tells us.
1. That panic attacks are caused by stress and anxiety. This is untrue because panic attacks are not an overreaction to our environment, or something that we can control. In fact, panic attacks will feel like they come out of nowhere, hit is quickly, and happen because our nervous system gets completely overwhelmed.
2. That panic attacks will make us go crazy! The truth is that being in panic does not affect our hormones, neurotransmitters or anything that could change the way our brain functions and cause another mental illness. Panic attacks usually happen because we have another underlying mental illness, but these are usually mood disorders (ie. depression, anxiety disorders, etc).
3. That a panic attack is going to cause us to have a heart attack. Since a racing heart is one of the symptoms of anxiety and a panic attack, it can feel like it’s hard on our heart to have a sustained panic attack. The truth is that our heart can beat at 200 bpm for days if not weeks (it depends on our age) without sustaining any injury. Therefore a 3-10 minute panic attack is not going to harm your heart or cause you to have a heart attack.
4. Panic attacks are used as an excuse to get out of something we don’t want to do. This is one that my clients report they hear a lot, and the truth is panic attacks are terrible! For those of you who don’t know, they can come out of nowhere, last for 10 minutes, and make us feel like we are losing our minds. Therefore if we find certain situations to be stressful or are at places where we have had a panic attack before, we are not going to want to go there. We aren’t trying to get out of something, we are just doing our best to not have another panic attack.
5. That there isn’t any treatment for panic disorder. WRONG! There are so many things we can do to help ourselves! We can try progressive relaxation! You know when you tense and release the muscles in your body, doing that for 20-30 minutes a day can really help with panic attacks, and may even stop them from happening altogether. Also, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can help. Since we often tell ourselves panic driven things when we are struggling, CBT can help us notice those and challenge the ones that aren’t serving us. Lastly, medication! SSRI’s, SNRI’s & benzodiazepines have all been shown to help us better manage the symptoms of panic disorder and panic attacks. So if you are struggling, please reach out to a professional in your area. We know it’s scary and we are here to help you feel better! xox
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I’m Kati Morton, a licensed therapist making Mental Health videos – Depression, Eating Disorders, Anxiety, Self-Harm and more! Mental health shouldn’t have a stigma attached to it. You’re worth the fight!
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