Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Can you ever really understand Panic attacks if you’ve never experienced them? | #SpeakUp

Can you ever really understand Panic attacks if you’ve never experienced them? | #SpeakUp panic disorder mental health illness wellbeing OCD anxiety panic attacks NHS help support tips

Something that I am very fortunate that I don't suffer from is Panic Disorder. Panic Disorder is; "where you have recurring and regular panic attacks, often for no apparent reason. Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times during their lifetime. It's a natural response to stressful or dangerous situations. However, for someone with panic disorder, feelings of anxiety, stress and panic occur regularly and at any time." (NHS Choices) I have had panic attacks before, some much worse than others but they all happen for a reason.

Panic disorder must be such a debilitating and stressful mental illness to live with, especially if you don't know what is causing your panic attacks. Which isn't to say any other mental illness isn't equally as stressful or debilitating. When you have had a panic attack or are having a panic attack, it can be very easy for everyone around you to tell you to breathe and stay calm but when you feel like you are about to die, this can be easier said than done. I know these people are only trying to do their best but can they really understand what you are going through?

Bridie raises this question brilliantly. In this week's #SpeakUp post. Can friends, relatives or even medical professionals understand what a panic attack feels like if they never had one? Sure, we all have feelings of anxiety every now and again, but a panic attack is a lot more than just feeling a bit sick or worried. If you suffer from anxiety, panic disorder or have had a panic attack before, I hope you find reassurance in Bridie's fantastic post. Enjoy!


As someone who suffers from mental health issues, I’ve seen enough therapists, psychiatrist and health experts to know that not everyone truly understands the experience of a panic attack. They may have had years of training and great knowledge about anxiety but can they TRULY understand if they’ve never had to experience it for themselves? 

What really is a panic attack, though? The dictionary definition of a panic attack is described as ‘a sudden overwhelming feeling of acute and disabling anxiety’ and I think that sums it up in a sentence very well. However, I think panic attacks are different for everyone, and everybody has their own description of a panic attack. For me, it’s an overwhelming sensation of fear and panic, the feeling of no control over my own body along with bodily symptoms like nausea and dizziness. 

Panic attacks are not something that one can control; you cannot make them come or make them go away. I describe it as a wave, overtaking my body, and there’s no way I can stop it, I just have to ride it out and wait for it to pass. 

Do you really need to of experienced a panic attack to know how it feels, though, it sounds pretty self- explanatory to me? One may think that and really the symptoms of a panic are very easy to understand, we all know what it feels like to be a little bit scared. What is difficult to understand is that it isn’t just feeling a little bit sick and a little bit scared, it’s feeling so frightened that you might die or the struggle as you’re hyperventilating, and no one even knows you’re suffering as from the outside you look completely normal. 

Can you ever really understand Panic attacks if you’ve never experienced them? | #SpeakUp anxiety UK  OCD support mental health panic disorder NHS blogger panic attacks

You cannot understand what it feels like to one minute feel absolutely fine and the next minute scared for your life or waking up in the middle of the night furiously shaking. You end up living your life in discomfort, either because little everyday things send you into a panic attack or you’re constantly waiting for the next attack to happen. It’s a vicious cycle that ends up making you miserable. People struggle to understand that most of the time it’s not just a one-time thing or something that happens to you occasionally, for some people, it’s a weekly if not a daily occurrence that in-turn takes over your life. 

My conclusion? No, I don’t think you can ever truly understand what a panic attack is like unless you have experienced one yourself. You can know everything about panic attacks, what causes them and the symptoms and what not but I don’t believe you can learn about the way it debilitates and controls your entire life and the thoughts that occur when experiencing a panic attack. 

Let me know in the comments or send me a tweet about your thoughts on the topic!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed my post and thank you to the wonderful Nicole for letting me share my views on her blog!

If you would like to know a little more about me, please feel free to follow my blog or any of my social media sites.

Lots of love,

Bridie x

I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you know someone who suffers from panic attacks or you suffer from panic attacks yourself, this post has provided you some reassurance or has informed you more about anxiety/ panic attacks. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments, down below!

If you would like to write a post, similar to this for the #SpeakUp project about anything that affects young people's health and wellbeing, do not hesitate to contact me via Twitter or email.

Thank you for reading, as always X

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22 comments

  1. In all honesty I wasn't that sure I wanted to click on this post when it came up on my feed because panic attacks are something I've been experiencing for a long time and yet I'm still learning about them. This post scared me. However, I actually found it really interesting and informative to read. Any number of things can send me into a panic attack and having them since such a young age I've sometimes felt they were 'normal' in my life. Thank you for putting up this post, it really related to me and touched me. xoxo

    emsirose.blogspot.com

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    1. aw I am so glad you found comfort in this post x

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  2. This was a great post to read. I've had a few panic attacks before, but I can totally respect what you say, as I've not experienced like someone who has them quite commonly, to the point they seek some sort of treatment. As they say, things are easier said than done.

    Belle | bellebrick.blogspot.co.uk

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  3. This was very informative :) One of my good friends suffers from Panic Disorders.. from reading this I can now sympathize with her a little better. I'm not going to fully understand what she is going through but it is nice to be informed.
    Thank you for sharing!


    Nikki O. | www.herdaringthoughts.blogspot

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    1. I am so glad it has helped you understand what your friend goes through x

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  4. This post is so educational. It was quite nice to read as I think what people lack these days is real information from those who fight illnesses like these on a daily. xoxo

    Whitney xoxo | Whitney Loren.

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  5. I 120% understand what you are getting at. I did a post, Living SURROUNDED by Anxiety talking about my end of the "anxiety spectrum". It was such a nice thing to read, and comforting in a way that I know I'm not the only one. So thank you for that :) x

    Kyia at WANDERLUSTGIRL// lifestyle & beauty
    Let’s be BLOGLOVIN friends!

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    1. aw I will sure to check out your post, it sounds brilliant x

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  6. This is really informative, I don't suffer from panic attacks but it was really helpful to read about them so I can help people when they are having them xx
    blossomofhope.blogspot.com

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  7. I took my first panic attack in February when I was in the middle of a shopping centre, it was as if I couldn't breathe! It's such a horrible feeling, luckily my anxiety isn't as bad as it used to be. However this post was very informative so I'm glad I came across it X

    www.sheintheknow.co.uk

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    1. aw bless you! They are not nice to experience but I am glad your anxiety isn't as bad as it used to be x

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  8. This was such an interesting post! I often wonder what other people consider a 'panic attack' as I do think the experience varies from person to person. My panic attacks are very physical - shaking, crying, hyperventilating etc - and I consider them separate from my /anxiety/ attacks which are more mental, with racing and intrusive thoughts. I don't think it's possible to really understand what it's like to have a panic attack until you have one, but I do think that people can empathise - especially when people who do suffer with them open up and offer information and experiences like this post! <3

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    1. Yes I totally agree! I have had physical panic attacks, like you described but also anxiety attacks with lots of racing thoughts xx

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  9. Thank you for writing this piece. It is comforting to have others share their point of view and know you're not the only one experiencing this.

    I suffer from anxiety and along with that comes panic attacks. I have recently written a blog post on 'My Anxiety'. I am doing so much better now, however when I have panic attacks my eyes water up and I cry. I found that people could not understand it because they related panic attacks to shaking.

    Larisa x
    http://larisajayne.com

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    1. I couldn't agree more! Panic attacks are different for everyone!

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  10. I think it's so nice to see so many more posts speaking up about mental health. I've suffered from panic attacks for about 5 years but have managed to learn to control them a lot better in the last few years. I think it's easy for people to see panic attacks as an "over reaction" to something but if they were in your head in the lead up to a panic attack they would FOR SURE understand that it's definitely not. It's all about letting your friends in I think, let them know what it feels like and what they can do to help you when you're experiencing one. Great post!

    www.lacylatest.co.uk

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    1. I totally agree! Panic attacks are definitely not just a over reaction to a stressful situation, if I didn't have to have them I wouldn't x

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  11. I had anxiety in my first year of university. I was having panic attacks on an almost daily basis, it was so stressful. Especially since at first I didn't really know what was happening. Then a girl I met told me she had anxiety and I started researching and went to the Drs and they confirmed I did. Everyone I've told has always been nice and tried to calm me but I think the only people who truly get it are those who've experienced it before. Guess I was lucky to have met someone else going through the same thing, it helped a lot! X X

    MintyMemories.blogspot.com

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    1. aw that's so lovely to hear that you had someone close to you who understood x

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