An Attack of Panic

A panic attack affects one out of 75 people, and can be quite disconcerting.  My panic attacks occur roughly once a month and last for about 1/2 hour.  When the acute symptoms first appear my first reaction is to resist giving in to it.  I get the “shakes” and start trembling.  For a long time, I didn’t know what caused them or more importantly what could stop them.

A panic attack is a sudden surge of an overwhelming fear that comes without warning and without any obvious reason. It is far more intense than the feeling of being ‘stressed out’ that most people experience. Symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • racing heartbeat
  • difficulty breathing, feeling as though you ‘can’t get enough air’
  • a terror, that is almost paralyzing, a seeming irrational fear
  • dizziness, lightheadedness or nausea
  • trembling, sweating, shaking
  • choking, chest pains
  • hot flashes, or sudden chills
  • tingling in fingers or toes (‘pins and needles’)
  • fear that you’re going to go crazy, or are about to die

You probably recognize this as the classic ‘flight or fight’ response that human beings experience when we are in a situation of danger. But during a panic attack, these symptoms seem to rise from out of nowhere. They occur in seemingly harmless situations–they can even happen while you are asleep.

In addition to the above symptoms, a panic attack is marked by the following conditions:

  1. it occurs suddenly, without any warning and without any way to stop it.
  2. the level of fear is way out of proportion to the actual situation; often, in fact, it’s completely unrelated.
  3. it passes in a few minutes; the body cannot sustain the ‘fight or flight’ response for longer than that. However, repeated attacks can continue to recur for hours.

A panic attack is not dangerous, but it can be terrifying, largely because it feels ‘crazy’ and ‘out of control.’ Panic disorder is frightening because of the panic attacks associated with it, and also because it often leads to other complications such as phobias, depression, substance abuse, medical complications, even suicide. Its effects can range from mild social impairment or to pretty much a total inability to face the outside world.

Is it a heart attack or a panic attack? Most of the symptoms of a panic attack are physical, and many times these symptoms are so severe that people think they’re having a heart attack. In fact, many people suffering from panic attacks make repeated trips to the doctor or the emergency room in an attempt to get treatment for what they believe is a life-threatening medical problem. While it’s important to rule out possible medical causes of symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, or difficulty breathing, it’s often panic that is overlooked as a potential cause – not the other way around.

If there is any doubt at all, call 911 immediately. You can always call 1-888-NEEDHIM if you need to talk this out.

But when I am afraid,
    I will put my trust in you.
I praise God for what he has promised.
    I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
    What can mere mortals do to me?

Psalm 56:3-4

 

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Further reading and help at: http://www.emedicinehealth.com/panic_attacks/article_em.htm

http://helpguide.org/mental/panic_disorder_anxiety_attack_symptom_treatment.htm

All in Your Head? [Depression]

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Depression is a Mental Disorder, not a Disease

There are plausible arguments for the non-existence of mental illness. But there are still people who declare themselves to have a mental illness. After all, being sick mentally has no physical symptoms; it’s not like a kidney stone or an inflamed appendix. One can only hope it was this simple.

Yet depression is a progressive and debilitating disorder. It is like having a ‘bruised brain’ that refuses to heal. There is an substantial list of psychological disorders. Technically depression is a mood disorder that has a series of symptoms. These symptoms are the evidence that something is definitely wrong.

  • Depressed mood (such as feelings of sadness or emptiness).
  • Reduced interest in activities that used to be enjoyed.
  • Change in appetite or weight increase/decrease.
  • Sleep disturbances (either not being able to sleep well or sleeping too much).
  • Feeling agitated or slowed down.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy.
  • Feeling worthless or excessive guilt.
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or troubles making decisions.
  • Suicidal thoughts or intentions.
http://www.nami.org/

The above list is a summary of something called the DSM-IV which doctors use to diagnose the mental disorder of depression. Having five or six of these may indicate a problem. Spinning off this, you will discover some other disorders, like:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Depersonalization/derealization
  • OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)
  • Psychosis and paranoia
  • PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome)
  • Specific Phobias (fears of something)
  • SAD (social anxiety disorder)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia)

Even though mental illness is widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion-about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans-who live with a serious mental illness. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that one in four adults–approximately 57.7 million Americans–experience a mental health disorder in a given year.

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misunderstanding and stigma for those who have these disorders. I suppose it is akin to having VD (venereal disease) or AIDS. It seems that our culture is pretty quick at labeling people as deviant or undesirable.

I hope this post helps. I can see a 100 holes in it, and alas, it is a meager attempt. But perhaps it will be of some value. Both NAMI.org, Psychcentral.com, and WebMD.com all have excellent info on Mental Illness. aabryscript

When Anxiety Becomes An Issue

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 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”

Matthew 6:27, NLT

“And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the span of his life?”

Matthew 6:27, AMP

Anxiety can be described as “misplaced concern.”  Many are over-wrought and disturbed by the way life is developing for them.  They can’t make it work, and find themselves in a place they regard as perilous.  They are stressed and then try to imagine themselves to a place of success.  But a year from now, they will not have improved and find themselves in pretty much in the same place.

The evil of anxiety is that we become overly concerned with the future— today. 

Under a great deal of worry, we develop a deep tendency for fear.  Soon doubt filters in and we work ourselves up into a significant problem.  Seeking success we find ourselves in the chains of anxiety and worry.

Jesus declared that we should never ever be anxious.  He suggests that anxiety will never pay-off.  Our fear over our future can bring us nothing but spiritual poverty, and emotional crisis  We find a bag and we try to collect some security and certainty, but little do we know that our bag has holes.  It holds nothing, and leaks everything.

No matter what we think, we change a single thing.  Concentrating on wealth and success will in the long run, is futile and empty.  We can’t make an iota of a difference.

6 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7, NLT

Security for us is not what we can scrape up, but it is found in coming under the control of Jesus Christ.  We have an awareness that life is cruel, capricious and demanding.  We sift through our life, our eyes eager to find something, anything that will help us.  And, we find nothing. But faith in God will push the anxious thoughts out.

“An unpeaceful mind cannot operate normally. Hence the Apostle teaches us to “have no anxiety about anything” (Phil. 4:6). Deliver all anxious thoughts to God as soon as they arise. Let the peace of God maintain your heart and mind (v. 7).”

Watchman Nee

Anxiety seems to be a disturbing companion to those of us with a mental illness.  (We definitely don’t like his company.)  Anxiety shapes us and victimizes us, and we often find ourselves in a confusing place. But understanding the presence of anxiety is just a half-step towards freedom. We must shake ourselves of the fear and doubt that accompanies this sin.

We must trust our Father, and completely lean on his grace. We must learn to pray again.

Important to Know:

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a seperate category of mental illness, and although similar to the anxiety experienced by many, requires the help of medical professionals.  We should not confuse the two. GAD is an illness and not just basic anxiety. Panic attacks can often accompany GAD. Get help if you think this might be an issue for you. 

Visit http://www.medicinenet.com/panic_disorder/article.htm for more information.

 

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