Panic Attacks -- The Common Scenario
Consider this common scenario of panic attacks: You are awakened in the middle of the night with a painful sensation running through your chest. Worse than the pain, is the awful sense of foreboding that comes over you as you lie awake wondering what is happening to you. Your head begins to pound and nausea quickly follows. You wonder if you are having an attack of acute indigestion. . . or. . . could it be your heart?
Fear intensifies the pain. In desperate need of reassurance, you wake your wife, hoping for her reassurance. Instead, she jumps out of bed and insists that you go to the emergency room. As she hustles you toward the front door, you begin to shake and gasp for air. At the hospital, after the doctor runs some routine tests, he pronounces that your heart is as strong as an ox. Did he murmur something about a panic attack? He sends you home with a couple of pills to calm you down and orders to call your doctor in the morning for follow-up.
Panic Attacks -- Why Me?
Everybody knows what a heart attack is, and the victim of one quickly engenders the support and sympathy of family and friends. But what happens when someone experiences panic attacks?
Many people view panic attacks as an indication of weakness or a psychological problem that is "all in the head." The victim of such an attack often asks, "Why me? I'm a strong, successful, competent individual." Unfortunately, panic attacks are no respecter of persons. In fact, the strong, silent types are most prone to panic disorders.
Panic Attacks -- Information and Prevention
Panic attacks are aggravated responses to stress. They are the body’s way of getting the attention of an individual who is not coping well with stressful situations. The effects of panic are not usually felt in the midst of the crisis, but later, after adrenaline has done its job and left its calling card.
The common sense approach to managing stress involves both behavioral strategies and healthy thought processes. Taking time out to “stop and smell the roses," learning to relax, exercising regularly, and sleeping enough are all excellent ways to physically manage stress. At the end of the day, give time for the mind to unwind and refocus, as well.
The Bible is a source of divine wisdom for the prevention of panic. In Philippians 4:4-8, God promises His peace to all who will trust in Him in the midst of calamity and daily stressors: “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again -- rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Panic Attacks – A Personal Story
I started to feel tightness in my chest and shortness of breath. “Am I having a heart attack?” I thought. Intense fear enveloped me. Wanting to escape, I left work and headed for the hospital. Of course, the doctors found nothing wrong. Months later, the doctors figured out that I was experiencing panic attacks.
Throughout the years, I have learned how to best deal with the panic attacks. I find comfort through my faith in God. Jesus said, “. . . be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). I’m comforted to know that Jesus is always with me -- even during a panic attack.
I immediately pray for God. The Bible says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you” (1 Peter 5:7). Choosing to trust instead of fear is not easy when I am going through a panic attack. When I pray during a panic attack, I realize that I am not alone. God’s comforting presence takes the sting out of the attack.
If you do not know the Lord as your Savior, you should consider finding peace from panic through the loving arms of Jesus. I came to know the Lord through the comfort and release I found in reading the Bible during times of intense fear.
Although my fear had left me homebound, God touched my heart and gave me the strength to go outside my comfort zone. I know He can do that for you too.
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