Originally Published 02/02/20
Thomas Robertson, LCSW, CSAC
Originally Appeared in the North Shore News
I have the opportunity to connect with people and work with them on a wide range of problems. Most often these are problems related to some type of mental health concern. While mental health problems are quite common, many people come in for the first time feeling apprehensive because they have never talked about their mental health with someone before. One reason that people avoid talking about their mental health is that they are embarrassed of their symptoms. I find this to be particularly true of panic attacks.
Panic attacks are a type of mental disorder where symptoms occur very suddenly, and often occur for no apparent reason. Someone experiencing a panic attack may have physical symptoms such as racing heartbeat, sweating, shaking, feeling dizzy, feeling nauseated, or having a headache. However, some of their symptoms might also include things that are not felt in the body, such as a sense of impending doom or danger, feeling like they are going to lose control of themselves, or even the feeling that they are going to die. Panic attacks can also have a bit of a feedback effect where people begin to feel very stressed about the possibility of having another panic attack in the future.
This can be extremely distressing and frightening, and people may respond to this in different ways. Some may become animated and feel like they can’t stay put, while others may withdraw. Because panic attacks include racing heartbeat, it is also not unusual for someone to seek care at an emergency room, only to be informed that what they had experienced was a panic attack. This can lead to a bit of embarrassment.
It is important that people understand that if they suffer from a panic attack, while an ER visit might not always be needed, it is a good idea to speak with a medical provider to discuss what has been happening and to see if there are underlying issues that need to be treated. If panic attacks are a recurring problem It is also very much advised that they seek help from a mental health professional.
To return to the issue of embarrassment, many people that suffer from panic attacks may avoid social situations for fear of having a panic attack. This can affect their ability to be productive at work and at school, and generally decrease their quality of life. It is important to remember that it is okay to seek help for mental health issues, and that medical providers and mental health professionals are happy to assist people that seek help.