Panic Mode — The Practical Side

Last week, while waiting in line to pick up my lunch, I overheard an interesting conversation. The woman behind me was telling her friend (in line next to her) that she has been having marital problems. She went on to tell her friend about how she “freaks out” and her husband does not know how to handle it.

As I listened to this conversation, my first thought was that the woman professing to have marital problems may just have trouble communicating with her husband. But, as she kept talking to her friend, I realized it was much more than that.

The woman said that when she “freaks out”—which results in her husband “shutting down”—several things happen. She said she:

–“feels dizzy”

–“get chills up the back of her head”

–“feels out of control”

–“feels her heart beat fast”

–and “worries things will never get better”

As I listened to her describe her symptoms, I realized she had had a panic attack—though she did not call it that. Panic attack is not a mental disorder in itself, but occurs with other anxiety and mental health disorders. Over time, panic attacks can lead to a diagnosis of Panic Disorder.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—Fifth Edition defines a panic attack as “an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and during which time four or more of the following symptoms occur”:

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate.
  • Sweating.
  • Trembling or shaking.
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering.
  • Feelings of choking.
  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Nausea or abdominal distress.
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint.
  • Chills or heat sensations.
  • Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations). 
  • Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself).
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy.”
  • Fear of dying. 

These are the symptoms of a panic attack. The woman I overheard had experienced at least 5 of these symptoms during her last panic attack. And, along with panic attacks, it is likely that she suffers with some form of anxiety on a regular basis.

How about you? Do you deal with feelings of worry or anxiety? Do you have panic attacks as described above? Do you struggle with excessive worry more days than not? If so, a trained and seasoned licensed Orlando therapist can help you. She can help you learn and implement coping skills to reduce your feelings of anxiety. And, she can provide the psychoeducation you need to know how to navigate feelings of panic when they commence. Don’t spend another day dealing with feelings of anxiety and/or panic. Take the first step today towards a more peaceful, centered and balanced life and call Life Enhancement Counseling Services at 407-443-8862 to speak with a trained therapist.


Yolanda Brailey