When I first heard about panic attacks triggered by unusual causes I was one of the guilty ones who immediately thought ‘strange‘. I now can relate to why Billy Bob Thorton might be afraid of antiques and Nicole Kidman of butterflies. I once knew a medical specialist who was afraid of wooden Balinese carvings.
It’s all about the association, and those things are triggers for them, just like a car with more than 2 or 3 people is a trigger for me, especially when they are not my ‘safe people’. Safe people are basically those who totally understand my situation and don’t forget that I suffer from this, and whom I feel will help me escape if I need to. Some know but they tend to forget, because I guess unless you’ve experienced it first hand it might seem trivial to you. Anyway exploring this condition made me want to share some facts that might be interesting to other sufferers out there.
1. The sufferer feels like they are having a heart attack due to the rapid pulse rate.
2. Rare in people over 65. First episode usually occurs in teens, 20’s and 30’s.
3. Twice as common in women.
4. Unrelenting fear of future attacks. (your body learns the situation and classifies it as danger, so it triggers future episodes.)
5. Studies with twins show that it’s genetic and related to gene regulating serotonin.
6. Triggered by post traumatic stress disorder and stressful life events like death, separation, major life transition (divorce, job loss), child abuse etc.
7. Passive people who hardly assert themselves are more likely to get it ( I guess because they are unable to communicate their needs and feel trapped)
8. Vitamin B deficiency.
9. Side effect of medication.
10. Panic attacks are linked to the fight or flight response gone haywire (When the brain perceives danger, messages are sent to the nervous system which activates the adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline. There’s an increase in heart rate and strength of the heartbeat. This is crucial in preparation for fight or flight because it pumps blood more rapidly to the needed areas of the body.)
If you suffer from this embarrassingly annoying problem like I do, then this article might help a little.
I found the information at the Anxiety and Panic Disorder Centre in LA very relatable and comforting too.
For most, the onset of panic disorder is a blow to the ego, “I am not in control? I am not invulnerable?” They are afraid of the stigma connected to any condition or illness. Panic disorder is not an easy thing to share with people because usually people react in a naïve manner by saying things like, “relax,” and “don’t worry so much.” Patients are then left feeling inadequate because they have no control over the symptoms others are insensitively trivializing. It is like telling a raging alcoholic not to drink or a Tourettes disorder sufferer not to tic.
The blog is therapy for me and one of the reasons why I need to remain anonymous.