Feelings of Going Crazy or Dying During a Panic Attack

Doctors and therapists who do not specialize in panic treatment and who don’t properly explain the causes of troubling symptoms, often do not earn enough credibility to convince their Panic Disorder patients that they are not “going crazy” or dying.

Feelings of dying and going crazy are symptoms, not outcomes of panic attacks.  But the feelings are strong and convincing, it can be hard to override them.

Panic attacks won't make you go crazy even though it might feel like you will. Photo: Ralaenin, sxc.hu

Panic attacks won’t make you go crazy even though it might feel like you will. Photo: Ralaenin, sxc.hu

Chemical changes in the body during a panic attack purposely cause you to feel, on an emotional level, that something is terribly wrong. This gets your attention in the face of danger and motivates you to take action.

These chemical changes are due to the panic response, also known as the “fight or flight” response. It physically and emotionally prepares the body to fight, flee or freeze in the face of danger. It’s a survival instinct, and that is why it is so strong.

You may have a lowered panic threshold

People who suffer from panic attacks often have what is referred to as a “lowered panic threshold” or an “overactive fight or flight trigger.” This means that the fight or flight response gets triggered too easily and too often, even when there is actually no danger present.

Knowing this information won’t cure your panic attacks, but it can stop anxiety disorder patients from developing more panic attacks that could result from the frightening (erroneous) belief that you are horribly ill or losing your mind.

Treatment of Panic Disorder involves, among other things, “resetting” the panic threshold so it does not get triggered as often and as easily.

If you are having panic attacks, see a doctor to make sure your health is intact. Then seek out a therapist who specializes in cognitive-behavioral treatment of Panic Disorder. This treatment can be as effective, or more effective than medication. Both work quite well for this disorder.

Not all panic attacks are caused by Panic Disorder, so it is important to get the proper diagnosis from your therapist.

Group treatment for Panic Disorder helps patients to see others who are experiencing the exact same symptoms. This can help you let go of the belief that they are dying or going crazy. But individual treatment with a Panic Disorder specialist works as well.

This article is for general information only and should not be construed as personal medical advice. If you are having troubling symptoms please see your doctor or mental health professional in person.

©Lisa C. DeLuca, all rights reserved.  It is a violation of copyright law to reproduce this work on the web or for profit without written permission from the author. This article was originally published on the web in 2008. Please contact the author for permission.

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