The Panic AttackWhat is a panic attack? – Most of us have heard about them, have had friends who deal with them or maybe even dealt with them ourselves. I’d like to delve into what a panic attack really is, clear up some misconceptions, and help you either avoid them, or take them on like a champion. They aren’t very difficult to understand, in fact they arise from the most simple (and in evolution - the oldest) part of our brains!
So what is a panic attack – plain and simple? Well, it is the emotion of fear. When we are in a conscious state and not practicing meditation or any spiritual relaxation / peacefulness we usually have “monkey-brain”; that is, a mind that swings from thoughts to thoughts, endlessly throughout the day. We constantly think of the future, the past, the present, and a combination of all these, trying to best suit our selves for gratification or whatever. Since all parts of the brain are active, and the mind seems to jump from one idea to the next, it is possible to have a negative thought – one that seems frightening or sad. In some cases, and especially for mine, the brain will quickly quiet this thought and move to the next. The problem, though, is that the part of the brain that controls fear can (at times) lag behind our speedy jumping consciousness; there is almost a delay among when one should feel fear after the fearful thought has subsided (if one skips over it).
So what does that have to do with panic attacks? What happens in a panic attack, is analogous to a trip wire. One may be walking through one’s thoughts, and trip over a depressing or confronting thought – like death or something silly like that. If one avoids the thought of this – and keeps “walking” within one’s thoughts away from the idea of death, the delayed fear may creep up seconds, or even minutes after the thought occured, and one will start to feel fear, or panic. At first the mind and brain will be attempt to figure out “what is wrong?” or “why do I feel afraid, uneasy, or anxious?” and thus begins the “attack” – the consciousness will not be able to identify what is going on, and it will attempt to fill this fear! At first there will be nothing to stick the fear to, but as the feeling of uneasiness fails to be solved, it will grow. The mind will start to escalate, perhaps the heart may start beating faster – “What is wrong – something is wrong!” This state of mind continues until one cannot prove a worry or fear incorrect – such as delusional thoughts like "I'm dying". It is impossible to prove to yourself that you are not about to die, so it may linger – there is no logical way to deduce that this isn’t true, so the fear will stick on to a thought until it can be disproved.