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8 Common Panic Attack Myths Debunked

Dr. Nusrat Habib Rana

2 min read

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Like so many other mental conditions, panic disorders and panic attacks, characterized by excess sweating, heart palpitations, and hyperventilation, are encased in forts of myths and misunderstandings; with a limited amount of medical information on panic attacks making seeking help with a top psychiatrist in Lahore for those with the disorder that much difficult. So, here we disprove some common myths pertaining to panic disorders with practical facts:

1-Panic Attacks and Anxiety are the Same Thing:

Anxiety is a broad term encompassing multiple, individualistic disorders like OCD and social anxiety disorder, and panic attacks are a symptom of most anxiety disorders. And while an anxiety disorder involves intermittent worrying over possible bad events occurring in the near or distant future, a panic disorder is the specific fear and avoidance of panic attacks. Moreover, panic attacks can also occur in people with other mental disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, and phobias, and even with medical conditions like sleep and digestive disorders.

2-Panic Attacks are Overreactions to Stress and Anxiety:

Greater-than-usual anxiety or nervousness in response to stressful situations and events is not akin to a panic attack. Sufferers of panic attacks feel perpetually threatened most times and have little control over their symptoms. Moreover, attacks occur as episodes ranging from a few moments up to 10 minutes when the body’s fight-or-flight response (that tricks you into feeling like you’re in danger) is triggered, and it doesn’t always require an environmental trigger to do so.

3-Panic Attacks Cause Insanity and Loss of Control:

While one may feel themselves to be on the verge of insanity due to the fear, upsetting thoughts, and physical sensations experienced during an attack, in reality the symptoms start subsiding when an attack reaches its peak within 10 minutes. Also, the feelings of derealization and depersonalization accompanied by hyperventilation only last until brain blood levels normalize and are NOT a sign of schizophrenia and psychosis.

4-Panic Attacks Can Kill:

Excess sweating, shortness of breath, chest pain, and elevated heart rate experienced during some attacks are akin to common heart attack symptoms, hence causing unnecessary stress. However, where chest pain associated with a heart attack is continuous, crushing, pressured, and worsens with movement, panic attack pains are brief and improve with motion.

5-You Can Faint After A Panic Attack:

Fainting is caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure, whereas people experience hypertension and accelerated heart rate during a panic attack, hence making a fainting episode highly unlikely. Simply walking around to restore your balance instead of sitting down can help the feeling subside.

6-Panic Attacks Require Permanent Medication:

While SSRI and SNRI antidepressants, along with other medications do help ease anxiety and reduce attack severity, they are not addictive or prescribed for the long-term and are often accompanied by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy; only to later eliminate the use of medication entirely. Some may require only CBT to learn to cope with their condition.

7-Avoiding Triggers Can Minimise Panic Attacks:

Although most panic attacks occur unexpectedly without any environmental triggers, avoiding a panic-inducing object, place, or situation only serves as a life-restrictor and strengthens the fear and anxiety associated with it. The best approach is to gradually face such triggers and try to stay as calm as possible.

8-Deep Breaths and Positive Thoughts Can Calm an Attack:

Hyperventilation during an attack already strains the breathing mechanism enough; taking further deep breaths drastically reduces bodily oxygen at cause dizziness and numbness, which can induce feelings of suffocation and more rapid breathing. Instead, let the attack run its course and focus on slow, shallow breathing. Similarly, forcing in positive thoughts only serves to suppress the negative thoughts, not eliminate them. The best route is to train yourself to make these unwanted thoughts not matter. Also, avoid carrying around paper bags for fear of hyperventilation; they only serve as progress-inhibiting crutches.

Panic attacks don’t have to be life-limiting events. With the proper therapy and skills, you can learn to effectively and efficiently manage an attack. You can also book an appointment with a top Psychiatrist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your mental health concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Nusrat Habib Rana - Author Dr. Nusrat Habib Rana is among the Best Psychiatrists in Lahore. Dr. Nusrat Habib Rana is a Psychiatrist practicing in Lahore. She is Ph.D from Spain, MD from China and MCPS from Pakistan. If you wish to seek her advice on mental health issues, please visit oladoc and get an appointment with her.
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