Once in a lifetime all of us have had symptoms like heaviness in heart, increased heart beats, feeling that blood pressure will go up or fall down, chest pain, giddiness, heaviness of head, abdominal discomfort, dizziness, tremors in hands or shivering in body, etc which start suddenly without any stress or tension. They just peak in few minutes and are often accompanied by thoughts - 'I will die!' or 'Something will happen to me?'
'Everything around me has changed', 'my blood pressure will shoot up' A midst of the rapid climbing of the symptoms, the usual behaviour opted by most of us is rush to an emergency ward of a nearby hospital. All the check ups, blood investigations, ECG- electrocardiogram, Blood pressure assessment, etc done fast by the doctor. To our surprise 'Are tension kyu lete ho? sab normal hai !!'
This makes us more worried that all the examinations and investigations are normal?? Then why this happened. Oh! this has to be something else which this doctor or hospital is not able to figure it out. So basic human psychology goes for a 2nd opinion and then 3rd, 4th and infinite, till we get a whole body check up. Sometimes same reports at different laboratories and wait for the diagnosis of what exactly is going on.
Everywhere the answer is 'Dont worry, You have nothing'. This hurts. Isn't it? More painful part, when it continues for few months, our family and near ones feel that this is nothing but stress and we should forget it. Some great advisors sympathize and advise for yoga and relaxation and go out of the station or spend time with friends, etc. But we know the agony it takes to have those symptoms and feeling blocked up everytime. Ahead fear enters in those places and spaces where this happens. We avoid them, like driving vehicle, queue, crowd, markets, travel, lift, theatre,etc. We feel that someone should accompany us and we will be safe.
This affects our work, time and major areas of life. What it is??
This is in simple words 'Panic disorder'. It is an anxiety group of disorders where mind misinterprets bodily symptoms and links it with situations or places and then the anxiety symptoms start. Why this happens? Neuro chemicals like serotonin, adrenaline and nor adrenaline and recently GABA have been implicated to be on a lower levels in brain which precipitate these symptoms. And most important part you are not at any fault in this low levels of chemicals. It is an individual vulnerability that differs and some people are more analytical or worrisome since childhood, harsh parenting or over pampering, high expectations, more body symptom concern, etc. are few factors which affect this vulnerability.
What to do if I have panic?
At 1st, panic disorder is NOT a serious psychiatric disorder. Yes, it is true. Websites may mention its catastrophic and worst prognosis, but it is not like that. Panic works on anxiety and fear cycle. This gets cleared off when treated in time. If you have panic, do not do anything. Sit and take deep breaths. Try to have a glass of water and relax. Most people become restless in order to get an immediate cure of panic symptoms. That is again a faulty behaviour. Going to doctors and emergency again and again will increase the chances of panic episodes.
Secondly, your mind needs to get a new form of learning everytime you have a panic. So be patient and let your mind know that this is anxiety and nothing life threatening. This will require two things - courage and patience.
Lastly, during panic episodes, do not take any decisions about your life or do not avoid any situations. This will aggravate the fear behind the episodes.
When to seek a Psychiatrist?
When panic lasts for 30 days or more, affects your work and relationship, affects your concentration and memory; when your efforts fail to handle panic; when all the reports are normal and when you have some other symptoms with panic like depression, anger, addictions, medical conditions, etc.
A psychiatrist can help you in both ways. Starting medications for quick relief of symptoms and if you and your psychiatrist feel then CBT- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or other psychotherapy.
Panic disorder is treatable. Panic disorder is non-serious. Panic disorder needs your patience and courage.
Be panic free, Live happily. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a psychiatrist.