One day, out-of-the-blue, without reason I felt terrified, I was so afraid that I thought I was going to die. The more attacks I felt, the more fear I had. I thought I was going crazy. I started living with fear. My heart was beating. My head was spinning. I did not know when I might have another attack.
-(Ortiz, A., 2014)
Spontaneous intense fear, feeling of loss of control, pounding heart, shaking or trembling, fear of dying, feeling of chocking, sweating … are some of the dramatic symptoms of a panic attack.
In panic disorder, panic attacks can appear anytime without warning as repetitive episodes of intense fear that have an unpredictable character; they appear out-of-the-blue. These kinds of reactions are triggered without reason, in other words, there is no real danger.
According to NIMH (2017) women are twice more likely to suffer from this disorder than men. In France, the most affected population has between 25 and 44 years old.
People living with panic disorder can sometimes experience a limited life. As time goes by, fear takes a lot of place. The physical symptoms can become so severe that people may think that they are suffering from a heart attack, that is why, so often they can end up in the emergency room. The simple idea of experiencing fear again, causes fear. Without treatment, people can develop obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression and substance abuse.
It is important to consult mental health professionals to be diagnosed and treated. Psychological treatment improve the symptoms of this disorder.
Grounding, a 6-step technique
Meanwhile, I share with you this simple exercise that can help you cope with a crisis. It is important to know, that this does not substitute a psychotherapy; is an exercise inspired by the Mindfulness technique. The purpose of grounding is to bring your mind to the perception and awareness of the body. This technique returns you to the present moment to understand your surroundings. It is very easy! Follow the next steps:
Look around you. Breathe through the nose.
Identify 5 things you can see.
Identify 4 things you can touch.
Identify 3 things you can hear.
Identify 2 things you can smell.
Identify 1 emotion you feel.
Start again if you consider it necessary.
Find a quiet place and authorize yourself a break. If the anxiety continues, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.
- Ortiz, A. (producer y director). (2014). Short film. « Ataque de pánico ».[Motion picture] Colombia.: Première Pro.
- NIMH.(2017). Trastorno de pánico: cuando el miedo agobia. Available: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/espanol/trastorno-de-panico-cuando-el-miedo-agobia/index.shtml