First panic attack: what happens next

The experience of the first panic attack is terrifying, to the point that we tend to think that we are victims of a myocardial infarction. After this first experience, there is a paralyzing fear that the episode will repeat itself

First panic attack: what happens next

The first panic attack marks a before and after in any person's life. These terrifying experiences that seem like a bolt from the blue are accompanied by a wide range of physical symptoms. Those who suffer from it have the clear feeling that they are about to die, and that their heart may collapse at any moment.

Those who have never experienced a panic attack on their skin may have distorted ideas about this experience. As a result, he will tend to think that the aforementioned reality only affects insecure and even fearful people. Furthermore, it is often thought that attacks occur in very specific situations, in which the subject is overwhelmed by an uncontrollable fear, such as that of speaking in public, of getting on an elevator or on an airplane, and so on.

Panic attack or heart attack?

Panic attacks can occur at any time and without a specific cause. There are those who wake up in the middle of the night overwhelmed by an alarming feeling of panic , firmly believing they are on the verge of having a myocardial infarction . There are also those who suffer from it for the first time while talking on the phone, having dinner with friends or while shopping at the supermarket.

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There is another important aspect to keep in mind: anyone can suffer from panic attacks. Because, believe it or not, these experiences do not distinguish personality, age or circumstances, the common denominator is anxiety. And a large part of the population suffers from anxiety, therefore it is recommended that you know what to do when you have a panic attack for the first time.

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The weight of anxiety seems to us heavier than the feared evil.

-Daniel Defoe-

Woman touching her heart during the first panic attack

What happens after the first panic attack?

We all have it available various techniques and resources for managing anxiety . However, there is an aspect that we often forget: information. We confuse the symptoms and signs that anxiety leaves on our body and mind; we do not know the consequences or how it manifests itself when you reach the limit.

This means, for example, that many people do not know how to recognize a panic attack. In a certain sense, in our imagination, it only happens to others or it is an experience that we may have seen on television and that people resolve by breathing into a paper bag. You need to have more data available, reliable information and some knowledge about psychological disorders to be able to intervene as soon as possible.

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So let's see everything that happens after the first panic attack.

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We go to the emergency room and the diagnosis surprises us

When a person has a panic attack for the first time, the fear grows exponentially because they don't understand what's going on. ; anxiety, therefore, is triggered by ignorance and uncertainty. Tachycardia, shortness of breath, nausea, muscle tension… it's common to go to the emergency room thinking you are having a heart attack.

When doctors give the diagnosis, some are even more upset. Knowing that what has been lived has a psychological and not a physical origin, causes a certain disturbance / rejection. The experience is so physical that many people do not hesitate to ask for a second opinion, to undergo tests and checks. In general, it is not uncommon for the patient to be prescribed anxiolytics for a limited period of time, plus a rest period.

Man with hand in head for anticipatory anxiety

After the first panic attack, the vicious circle of fear begins

Panic attacks are the product of a development, although at first they appear suddenly. They are the physical trigger of an adverse emotional state that is maintained over time. Thus, in general, those who suffer from these experiences accumulate an excess of anxiety over the months and even years.

After the first panic attack, it shows up secondary anxiety . It is a state where we end up developing an intense fear of having a new attack; intense symptoms and loss of control terrify us. All this leads us to self-feed fear, which triggers a vicious cycle that further intensifies the situation.

Vulnerability and the long journey for help

Finally, after the first panic attack it is common to seek help. There comes a time when the person is aware of his vulnerability. Sooner or later he realizes he is on the verge of losing control over his life. The anguish deriving from the fear of a new attack, in an unsuspected place and circumstances, pushes her to take a first step to intervene.

However, this is not always done the right way. There is who he devotes himself to yoga , those who think that relaxation and meditation techniques can help them limit these situations. However, it doesn't always get results. And he doesn't get them because anxiety is a complicated and shy enemy that spends a lot of time in the patient's life. This is why there is a need for more specific, well-planned strategies that only a specialist can offer.

Psychological therapy is the only means that helps us to limit panic attacks and the emotional reality that lies behind these manifestations. Little by little and with commitment on our part, we will regain control to make room for a more fulfilling and satisfying life.

How does anticipatory anxiety affect us?

How does anticipatory anxiety affect us?

Anticipatory anxiety is a mental process by which, before a certain situation that causes us stress or restlessness, we imagine the worst.

  • Hood, H. K., & Antony, M. M. (2015). Panic Disorder. In  International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition  (pp. 468–473). Elsevier Inc.
  • Moitra, E., Dyck, I., Beard, C., Bjornsson, A. S., Sibrava, N. J., Weisberg, R. B., & Keller, M. B. (2011). Impact of stressful life events on the course of panic disorder in adults.  Journal of Affective Disorders , 134 (1–3), 373–376.