From "Transform" A Personal Evolution
Transforming Stress and Anxiety into Strong Personal Power

Peter was a worrier…..he was also a successful small business owner/operator.  At 55 he had built a business that his clients could depend upon.  He worked hard and was proud of his accomplishments.  His employees enjoyed their work, and liked working for him.  He was financially more stable than ever before in his life.  He had family and friends who loved him.  However, he was beginning to have problems with his health.  He had developed diabetes and blood pressure problems.  This worried him.  He started having trouble sleeping.  One day out of the blue, he noticed a heaviness in his chest. His heart was pounding. He began sweating and having trouble breathing. He became very worried. His thoughts were racing.  He thought he was having a heart attack.  He thought he was going to die.  He went to the local emergency room.  It was not a heart attack….  it was an “anxiety/panic attack”.

A panic attack is a sudden onset of feelings of fear or terror, for no apparent reason.  There are usually no warning signs, it can come out of the blue and can leave a person feeling hopeless/helpless.  The feelings are so intense and terrifying that people who experience them often feel they are “out of control”, “going crazy” or “dying”.  The feelings and beliefs seem very real.  These intense feelings stimulate the brain to release a cascade of biochemical hormones that eventually causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and adrenaline like hormones.  These hormones “rev” up the body by increasing the heart rate, blood pressure, respirations and tightening up the muscles, etc preparing them to “fight or flight” the situation.  Experiencing these emotional and physiological symptoms takes a great deal of energy, and in the end the person is extremely fatigued, sometimes teary and usually embarrassed.

An anxiety attack is similar to a panic attack, however the onset of symptoms is often more gradual. It usually involves more anxiety symptoms, and less of a sense of panic/terror.  Symptoms of anxiety attack include excessive worrying, difficulty controlling one’s thoughts, chest pain, headaches, abdominal pain, irritable bowel, hot flashes, rapid heart beat, difficulty breathing and a fear that something bad will happen.

Anxiety/Panic attacks are emotional and physical responses to a stimulus (a situation that causes our response).  These stimuli are either external (caused from situations outside oneself) or internal (caused from within one self).  External stimuli are caused by something real that is occurring in our lives, e.g. divorce, separation, loss of job, someone trying to hurt you, work/life “burn out” etc..  Internal stimuli are the thoughts and feelings generated by oneself about the external stimuli/situation.  It is the thoughts that spiral out of control that cause an anxiety/panic attackSymptoms of a panic attack include palpitations (pounding or rapid heartbeat), sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath (or sensation of smothering), chest pain, nausea, numbness and tingling in various parts of the body, feelings of choking, dizziness (feeling unsteady, light-headed), fear of losing control, fear of going crazy, feelings of disorientation, fear of dying, feelings of extreme fear/terror for no apparent reason,

Four of more of the above symptoms at one time, with sudden onset may indicate an anxiety/panic attack or panic disorder. 

If you are having these symptoms, you should see your physician to ensure that there is not a medical problem causing them.  The good news and truth about anxiety/panic attacks is that you will not go crazy…you will not die… and anxiety/panic attacks can be prevented.