Monday, April 12, 2010


I am bringing forward a topic that I believe is very familiar to many people, however seldom spoken of. More and more in today's society Chronic Panic Attack Syndrome is becoming a painful part of the "North American Lifestyle" In some instances it is misdiagnosed and therefore making many people unaware of what it actually is. Its symptoms mimic those of a heart attack or stroke, but they are in fact very different things. Over the past 15 years panic attack syndrome (or anxiety attacks, as they are so often called) has become an overwhelming phenomena for many people.

I was 26 when I had my first "panic attack" experience. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. I felt as though I was going to die. That my heart would eventually give out (from beating so fast) and I would have a massive heart attack and my life would be over. It began with a simple thought: “I cannot breathe properly", I thought to myself and it was all down hill from there. I began to feel my heart beating a mile a minute and at times I could swear it was skipping beats. Then I felt it. Massive heart palpitations followed by very deep chest pains. I began to break out into a cold sweat and my entire body shook from fear. My legs felt like jello and yet I had the adrenaline of 10 men. I would pace the house, trying to make myself feel better but it didn't work. The more I paced the more severe my symptoms became. That, hand in hand with negative thoughts of death, was enough to send shooting pain up both my arms and at one point I was ready to faint. The attacks always left me extremely vulnerable, weak and feeling as though I was going crazy. I was falling into a deep depression and never had a break from anxious feelings or negative thought patterns.

After months of hospital visits, heart specialists and psychologist appointments I was finally diagnosed with panic attack disorder by a man by the name of Vince Pietropoalo. He was a relaxation therapist. The only man who had enough faith in both himself and me, that I could beat this thing without medication. Medication is always "the most" welcomed solution for patients suffering from this type of disorder, but it was not a method I was willing to explore. He allowed me to visit with him each week, and gave me a clear and concise explanation for what was happening within my body. “A panic attack is the release of adrenaline within the blood stream, at the wrong time" It made sense to me, so I decided to keep seeing him. He went on to tell me that there were no registered cases in history that stated anyone dying of a panic attack before. I was relieved (to say the very least) to know what it was I had and that I wasn't going to die from it.

I have been living with Anxiety disorder for 10 years now. I say "living with it" because, as it was explained to me, once you become diagnosed with Panic Attack Syndrome you will suffer from it for the rest of your life. Doctors and therapists alike all agree that they can become manageable, at times even become dormant for years, but will again resurface in time. For those who suffer from these attacks, it is truly horrifying to hear such news. Nevertheless, we fight to live another day, in a dormant state of anxiety.

Today, my attacks are much more controlled. They do not occur as often as they originally did 10 years ago, but nevertheless they are still there. I learned a lot about what my triggers are and how to "talk myself down" when my attacks do in fact arise. I was taught how to use my body to relax my mind, and how truly important it is to know that as individuals we may not be able to control the events and circumstances around us, but we can certainly control what those events and circumstances mean to us. Anxiety can be controlled. It has taken many long and difficult years to build a relationship between myself and the attacks. For it is necessary to do so. I have learned a great deal about myself, my emotions, and the entire world around me. Things that perhaps I may never have known if it wasn't for this crazy ride. So I try to take something positive from it, although, it's not always the easiest task.

For those of you who are not familiar with what panic attacks truly are, I suggest that you visit articles written by: Jake Van Der Borne. He is the author of an incredible site relating to panic attacks and dealing with anxiety in a general sense. The link is:
He explains exactly what a panic attack is and how to deal with them. His research explain, in detailed fashion, what the existing symptoms of a panic attack are, how they originate and how to "ride them" once they occur.
There is also a "question and answer" section for those who would like to know more.

So if you think that you or anyone you know suffers from this type of disorder, I urge you to visit this site and speak to your doctor immediately. There are many different forms of treatment for what we go through. Ones that do not necessarily have to involve taking medication. I was truly lucky to have found a therapist who believed that too.
If you are new to this world always know that you are not alone. There is help and a light at the end of all the madness. You may feel for a long time like you are going utterly crazy, but those feelings will subside. You just have to talk to someone about them.

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