Do you know what the main cause of panic attack is?
It’s the FEAR of having a panic attack.
In particular, the fear that having an attack will lead to something AWFUL.
That’s why the only way you can stop them is to stop fearing them. But how?
The trick is to prevent the symptoms of panic giving rise to catastrophic thoughts.
Like ‘I’m going to die’.
Or ‘I can’t handle this’.
This is CRITICAL if you want to beat your fear of flying.
Yes, the symptoms of panic are unpleasant – especially if you feel them while flying through turbulence or something else that’s scary.
But if you can view your symptoms objectively rather than through the prism of panic, they won’t cause you harm.
To prove this, here’s a description of the 9 main symptoms.
And why you should quit worrying about them now.
More help: If you’re worried about being trapped on a plane while having a panic attack, download my free guide which shows you how to regain control.
1. A pounding heart
When people have panic attacks, they often think they’re having a heart attack.
But they’re not.
Yet it’s easy to see why they might worry.
After all, your heart can pound so hard it feels like it’s going to explode.
And at the same time, you can get nasty chest pains.
But the reality is that panic attacks DO NOT cause heart attacks.
The rapid pumping of your heart is caused by your body priming itself to fight or flee.
In other words, it’s doing what it’s DESIGNED to do.
Just like it’s designed to pump hard when you go for a jog.
So why does it scare you when you’re having a panic attack?
Maybe because you’re not used to your heart rate rocketing when you’re not doing physical exercise.
Or maybe because you fear that your panic attack will go on forever – and your heart won’t last the distance.
On that note, you need to ask yourself how long your previous panic attacks have lasted.
I’ll bet they only lasted minutes.
Because your body’s hardwired to only allow them to last for a short time.
20 minutes is about the max.
Luckily, you heart can easily work hard for that long.
But even if you’re heart was forced to pump furiously for much longer, it could.
That’s what it’s designed to do.
Just think of all the people you see jogging.
Their hearts are pumping like CRAZY – often for much more than 20 minutes.
But what if you’re not super fit? Don’t worry – your heart can take it.
That said, if you have recurrent chest pain outside of your panic attacks, you should get a medical check-up.
2. Breathing problems
When having a panic attack, do you struggle to breath?
If so, do you fear suffocation?
Because, in reality, your body won’t let you.
Don’t believe me? Try holding your breath indefinitely.
No, the reason you feel like you can’t breath is because when you have a panic attack, your breathing becomes fast and shallow.
This is called hyperventilating.
And it can make breathing seem hard. Why?
Because hyperventilating leads to an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your blood.
In particular, it results in too much oxygen and not enough carbon dioxide.
And without enough carbon dioxide, your body can’t absorb oxygen properly. The result?
Breathing seems much harder, even though your body is actually fine.
3. Dizziness, vertigo or feeling ‘outside’ of yourself.
These are also caused by hyperventilating.
And while they sure FEEL scary, they’re not actually dangerous.
In fact, when you were a kid, you probably used to create these symptoms deliberately. For example, by spinning around.
And while they made you feel weird, they didn’t panic you. Right?
So there’s no need for them to worry you now.
Bonus: Are you scared stiff of air travel? Don’t miss Fear of Flying: The Definitive Help Guide.
Tingling, especially in your hands and feet, is another symptom caused by hyperventilating.
As with the other symptoms this causes, tingling is unpleasant but not dangerous.
5. Going crazy
When having a panic attack, have you worried about going crazy?
If so, did you actually go crazy?
That’s because panic is an anxiety disorder, not a mental health one.
Put simply, panic attacks have nothing to do with mental illness.
That’s why they can’t make you go crazy – even if you feel light-headed. Or get that horrible ‘out of body’ feeling.
And even if you feel you’re going crazy, remember that as with everything else related to panic attacks, a feeling is not a fact.
6. Losing self-restraint
Similar to fears of going crazy, a panic attack can obviously make you feel like you’re going to lose self-restraint in some way.
For example, you might fear that you’ll jump out of your seat and run wildly around the cabin.
Or start shouting.
Or try yanking the doors open (which is impossible while flying).
Or something else that would be embarrassing.
But have you ever lost self-restraint during a previous panic attack?
I didn’t think so.
That’s because, despite what you might feel, your brain has a way of ensuring these thoughts don’t translate into action.
But what if it that system failed and you DID do something offbeat.
Would it matter?
Yes, it might be a bit embarrassing doing something weird in front of your fellow passengers.
But so what?
With their headphones on, I can almost guarantee they wouldn’t notice.
And if they did?
Who cares – you’re never going to see them again.
Worried you’re going to faint?
Well, guess what?
It’s almost certain you won’t.
That’s because fainting is caused by a drop in blood pressure. Yet in a panic attack, your blood pressure goes UP.
But pretend for a moment that you COULD faint.
Given it wouldn’t be dangerous (unless, for example, you banged your head on something), how awful would it be?
Not bad enough to worry about.
So strike fainting off your list of panic-related worries.
Don’t miss this: your FREE copy of Fear of Flying: The Definitive Help Guide.
Yes, it’s unnerving. But trembling isn’t dangerous either.
It’s simply your muscles tensing up to prep your body to fight or flee.
If you don’t believe me, try holding yourself in a push-up position for as long as possible.
9. Losing control of your bladder or bowel
Another reason you might fear panic attacks is because you’re worried they might demand an immediate visit to the bathroom.
This fear is compounded by the worry that something might stop you getting there.
Like the fasten seat belts sign being on.
My take on this is that a panic attack is unlikely to cause a loss of control in the first place.
After all, has that happened to you in previous attacks?
But even if you suddenly felt the need to go, I’m sure you’d be able to hang on in the same way you’ve managed in other situations.
Like travelling in a car.
On that note, do you fear having a panic attack on a plane? If, so what specific thing(s) are you worried might happen? Let me know in the comments.
More help: Would you like to discuss your fear of flying directly with me? If so, you can now book a Skype session. For more info, click here.
This is the third instalment in a series of posts about panic attacks.