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The Essential Guide to Overcoming Panic Attacks ~ Profound Anxiety Solutions

Panic attacks are often associated with specific situational triggers (e.g. going to the mall alone) or internal cues which we interpret as something dangerous or scary (e.g. chest pain).

For many people, experiencing one of these personal triggers can set up a seemingly automatic response of fear and worry that can lead to a panic attack.

You feel a pain in your chest – you think “maybe it’s a heart attack” – you’re off to the races.

One of the strongest situational triggers for many people is where they were when they experienced a panic attack.

There is often a deep fear of it happening again whenever they are in the same location or situation.

The first major panic attack I can remember (which was also one of the worst) was during a normal shopping trip at the grocery store when I was a teenager.

Several minutes after arriving I went from having mild anxiety to a full-blown panic attack.

My mind was spinning, I was sweating heavily and experienced the situation (the people, the store, the cans on the shelves, my body) as unreal.

I became fixated on the terrifying thought of losing control and going crazy in the middle of the store.

I imagined having a full breakdown and the police arriving to haul me off to the looney bin.

Everyone in the store, my family, my friends, would all talk about how crazy I was and I would remain in an asylum for the rest of my life.

Good times…

This is an example of what is often referred to as a spontaneous panic attack.

It came seemingly out of the blue and there was nothing exceptional about the experience that would otherwise have triggered the panic.

Despite the intensity of the experience and my deep fear of “losing control” and losing my mind – what actually happened during my shopping trip was much less dramatic.

The intensity of the fear and the sensations eventually mellowed out.

After about 10-15 minutes I was back to pretty much normal functioning.

No trip to the looney bin. No “crazy” outbursts.

Nothing other than some heavy sweating, fearful thoughts and overall discomfort.

Regardless of the reality of the situation (10-15 mins of temporary discomfort), shopping at grocery stores by myself became a situational trigger for me.

For months afterward I would avoid going to a grocery store alone, or if I did go I would constantly worry about having another panic attack.

Quite often I would work myself up and scare myself so badly I would end up having a panic attack before I ever even got to the store.

This is a prime example of an external situational trigger for panic attacks.

I developed an intense fear of having a panic attack in a specific situation (the grocery store) based on my experience of having one in that situation in the past.

Internal cues can trigger panic attacks just as easily as external cues, if not more so.

Those with health anxiety or a strong fear of hospitals, a conscious fear of death or disease, or those who have a stronger sensitivity to changes in their own body can easily be thrown into a panic by otherwise harmless bodily sensations.

Chest pain turns into “I’m having a heart attack.”

Headaches turn into “I have a brain tumor.”

In the heat of the moment, we take these thoughts to be true.

And if the pain gets worse (which often happens if we intently focus on it with fear) it only further validates our premonition.

All of this being said – the truth is there are no “spontaneous” panic attacks.

There are proven observable physiological changes that occur before every panic attack.

Very often there are thoughts and fears just under the surface that we may not have been aware of at the time.

Being under extreme pressure for long periods of time or denying and suppressing emotions are two good examples of scenarios that can eventually lead to “spontaneous” panic attacks.

In the end there is no real way to run from ourselves – everything catches up to us eventually.

But that is a discussion for another article…

Whether a panic attack seems to come out of the blue or you believe it be “caused” by some trigger, the process for overcoming the panic is the same.

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