Breathlessness, profound pressure in my chest, upset stomach, agoraphobia, and a distorted sense of reality—all while scratching my face constantly in desperation—were the symptoms I had when I entered the emergency care unit of the hospital while I was living in Germany.
The doctor gave me a kind smile when he announced my diagnosis: “You have experienced a panic attack. You will be fine. A psychiatrist is on his way.”
“Panic attack, like in extreme fear?” I asked the doctor.
“Yes. Can you please tell me what problems you have been having lately?”
I was clueless. “I have no problems, doctor.”
It can be difficult for anyone who has not experienced a panic attack to understand how it feels, but the name is quite accurate for describing the symptoms associated with it. During a panic attack your entire body enters panic mode for no logical or apparent reason. Your body behaves as if you’re being chased by Jason Voorhees, the masked murderer from Friday the 13th.
Friends and family members who have never experienced the scary symptoms of a panic attack may respond with less-than-helpful statements such as, “There is no one chasing you” or “It’s only in your mind.” They don’t understand that the fear is so intense that it attacks you over and over again, weakening you and devastating your self-confidence as you go from living and thriving to merely surviving.
But it doesn’t have to stay that way. It’s possible to say goodbye to fear.
What Is Fear?
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