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The Road To Fort Worth

Read » Chapter 8: Danville

Panic Disorder - How You Can Help

A panic attack is an extreme reaction to a perceived threat of danger.

Neurologic centers in the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex send signals in a feedback loop that prepare the body to either fight or run in the absence of any threat of danger. It is essentially a false alarm, but the physiological response is very real and terrifying, and it presents itself as a panic attack.

At the same time, the victim of the biological error knows that there is no real threat in the environment, yet still experiences a number of terrifying reactions from a rapid heart beat, sweating and dizziness, to thoughts that include the perception of having a heart attack, dying or going insane. And many people develop a sense of super self-consciousness and are afraid to tell anyone what they are feeling because they think someone will judge them to be silly or crazy.

When someone trusts you enough to share their experience or trusts you even more to tell you that they're having a panic attack, be reassuring and calm. Tell them that you are there for them and that you'll get through the experience together. DO NOT ever tell someone that they're being silly or that their fears are not real. The person's feelings are as real to them as if something was attacking them. If the person is not in therapy, you can approach the subject later, asking if they would like you to assist in finding a solution.

Respect the person like you would anyone who has been assaulted. Your support could be the turning point in the person's life as they proceed into recovery.

Copyright ©2012 Michael Jackson Smith

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