Is Panic Always A Bad Thing?

Is Panic always a bad thing?

Have you ever thought you were having a heart attack and been told in the emergency room that it wasn’t that? Or have you felt like you were going to die even though there was no apparent danger and have you felt excruciating fear? In that case, you may have suffered a panic attack.

When you have a panic attack, it’s really bad. The panic is so high that it causes us very strong symptoms, which are extremely unpleasant, to the point of thinking that we are going to die.

And why do these panic attacks appear? Is panic always so bad? Keep reading this article and we will describe what panic is, what panic attacks are and if panic is always a bad thing.

What is panic?

We commonly know as panic that extremely intense fear. It is synonymous with terror, dread, fright…, and similar emotions that go beyond fear. Generally, panic appears in situations of extreme danger.

Sometimes it occurs in situations with crowds of people, in which panic seems to spread or “catch” like mass hysteria. And seeing people in panic is one of the most fearful factors for human beings. Between the empathy we can feel and the underlying idea of ​​“if they are terrified, something serious must be happening”, it is true that in the end panic spreads.

Unfortunately, This intense fear can lead us to extreme behaviors to guarantee our survival and well-being. Some examples are fires in closed spaces in which people have died after being trampled on the way to emergency exits, or the phenomenon of the depletion of toilet paper and other essential products at the beginning of the confinement of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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However, panic does not always appear in situations of real danger, but the cause is sometimes imaginary or innocuous. These are cases of panic attacks, also called panic attacks or anxiety attacks.

What are panic attacks?

A panic attack is excessive fear or anxiety that appears without any real danger or apparent cause. These crises appear unexpectedly, intensify in a few minutes and cause symptoms on a physiological, emotional and cognitive level.

Among the most common physiological symptoms are acute chest pain or sensation of pressure, tachycardia, rapid breathing, feeling of suffocation, trembling, tingling, crying, nausea, dizziness, fainting, heat, chills… As for emotions and thoughts, they usually revolve around fear and worry about what is happening, and even the fear of dying. By focusing on these ideas, panic increases, thus the symptoms, and therefore, the worries. You enter a loop that is difficult to break.

It presents itself differently in each person, so that the panic attack for some people may not resemble that of others. On the other hand, having suffered a panic attack is not a sign of suffering another attack in a short time. There are people who have only had one panic attack in their entire life, and there are those who suffer from it daily, even several times a day.

When panic attacks are recurrent, and are accompanied by continued worry about the possible onset of another panic attack or persistent avoidance of situations in which it may occur, panic disorder can be diagnosed. This disorder is categorized within anxiety disorders.

Is panic always a bad thing?

After describing panic and panic attacks, you may have been left with a bad perception of them. Is panic always a bad thing? Well no. Like all emotions, panic basically has an adaptive function. Specifically, panic drives us to guarantee our own survival and physical and emotional well-being.

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On a physiological level, it prepares our body for the necessary actions of flight or fight, making the heart beat faster to send more oxygen to the muscles. This response is what triggers all the physical symptoms that we have mentioned before. This reaction is also caused by fear and anxiety, but in the case of panic, being an extreme version of these emotions, it is a more excessive response.

Therefore, panic is not always a bad thing. When the danger is real, panic and its physical trigger are necessary to save us. And what happens with panic attacks? Generally, panic attacks appear because we have begun to perceive physical symptoms of fear or anxiety in ourselves and we have interpreted them as a current danger. This can happen to us when we are in periods of stress and the body has not managed to completely relax in moments of supposed tranquility.

This way, Panic attacks are actually the fear of fear: When we notice the usual symptoms of fear (such as palpitations, rapid breathing, etc.) in a seemingly calm situation, we do not understand why we feel that way and we worry that something bad is happening to us. This worry triggers an even greater fear, panic, and we begin to look for an explanation for what has generated the fear.

This is how you become afraid of certain situations (such as riding public transport, being locked up at home…), because you have already suffered the panic attack in them, but in reality the situation itself has had nothing to do with it.

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Fortunately, Panic attacks are not dangerous for our physical health, but they can affect the quality of life of the person. If you suffer from these attacks, we recommend you go to therapy. They are easy to treat, especially once you understand how they arose and that they are not a real danger.

Do you want to learn about emotion regulation?

If you are interested in training in Emotional Intelligence, the Expert Course in Emotional Intelligence and Positive Psychology organized by the European Institute of Positive Psychology is for you. In it you will be able to understand the essential aspects of one of the key abilities of the human being: the ability to modulate the expression of his emotional states to direct it towards his goals. It is 100% online, and includes live classes and weekly tutorials, as well as a teaching team made up of psychologists who are experts on the subject.