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Top 5 Myths About Panic Attacks

Panic Attack Myths

Panic Attack Myths

Don't believe these myths about panic attacks:

1. “A panic attack is or will cause a heart attack!”

2. The “I’m going to faint!” Myth About A Panic Attack

3. “I’m going to lose control!”

4: “I’m going to lose my mind or go crazy!”

5. “I will have panic attacks for the rest of my life and be stuck on medication.”

Panic attack myths are often the cause of a panic attack and these myths further perpetuate the symptoms of a panic attack.

What A Panic Attack Really Is

A panic attack is NOT life threatening. The symptoms are the body’s evolutionary response to keep us alive, also known as the fight, flight, or freeze response.

The fight, flight, or freeze response is helpful if we encounter a wild animal ready to eat us. The adrenaline that begins flowing through our bodies helps us escape and survive. When the animal is defeated or evaded, the symptoms disappear.

For most people today, however, there is no wild animal trying to eat them. It’s a false alarm that just feeds into panic attack myths. Like a smoke alarm that goes off while cooking, the alarm is loud and unpleasant but the alarm itself is never dangerous, and the house will not burn down.

With a panic attack, there is no real danger.

Panic attacks can occur at home watching TV. Most of the time they occur when people are scared about "What could happen" or "What if?" "If I give that speech I could stumble on my words, start stuttering, and pass out in embarrassment." "What if this feeling I'm having is a heart attack?"


Panic attack myths and panic attacks are caused by people's false beliefs about the dangers of what is happening or what could happen.


Here are some widely held but false belief's or myths about panic attacks

1. “A panic attack is or will cause a heart attack!”

Top 5 Myths About Panic Attacks

Panic attacks and heart attacks share some of the same symptoms and often people go to the emergency room because they think they are having a heart attack but are actually only having a panic attack.

This panic attack myth is easily disproved by getting a medical evaluation. If your doctor concludes that you are healthy with no heart condition, then you know it’s only symptoms of a panic attack.

What is really happening: A panic attack occurs when the body activates the flight, fight, or freeze stress response. This dumps stress hormones (adrenaline) into your blood stream.

These hormones change the way you feel physically, not unlike drinking too much coffee. These hormones prepare you for action and cause your muscles to constrict and your breathing and heart rate to increase. This can then create the sensation of chest pain (muscle tension), a pounding heart, and tingling sensations in the hands.

A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching a section of the heart. This causes significant damage to a part of the heart and causes feelings of achy pain and squeezing pressure in the chest. Heart attacks are mainly due to coronary artery disease.

How you can tell the difference between a panic attack and a heart attack: Chest Pain during a panic attack is localized. The pain experienced during a panic attack is usually sharp and localized in the chest.

Chest pain during a heart attack is felt as achy pressure or squeezing that travels. The pain during a heart attack is experienced more as pressure and squeezing, and often starts in the chest and radiates or travels to other parts of the body such as the arms, back, and jaw.

Onset and duration are also different. A panic attack starts abruptly, often when feeling nervous or anxious, and last between 15 and 20 minutes.

The symptoms of a heart attack may also start abruptly but often begin gradually. The symptoms of a heart attack also last longer and increase as time goes by.

2. The “I’m going to faint!” Myth About A Panic Attack

Top 5 Myths About Panic Attacks

Many people fear that they will faint or pass out as a result of feeling light-headed or dizzy during a panic attack.

Fainting during a panic attack is a myth.

What is really happening: Our breathing changes significantly when our sympathetic nervous system kicks in. The way we breathe is directly related with the way we feel.

Normal breathing is relaxed and our levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide are balanced, allowing our bodies to function efficiently.