Understanding Panic Attacks

Vlog Summary: Candace A. McCullough explains the basics of panic attacks. Panic attacks can be very frightening experiences, with symptoms that may include some, but not necessarily all, of the following: a racing heartbeat, difficulty breathing, sweating, feeling crazy or like you are about to die, feeling like you are choking, numbness, feeling paralyzed or unable to move, or feeling detached from reality.

Although panic attacks last less than ten minutes, the intensity of the symptoms can make them feel much longer. While many people may feel nauseous or physically uncomfortable in certain situations (i.e., before speaking to an audience), panic attacks symptoms are far more excessive, extremely intense, and beyond normal, nervous reactions. Panic attacks are common and happen to many people during their lifetime.

There are a number of possible causes of panic attacks. Among these are: family history of panic attacks, biological/medical reasons (i.e., diabetes or glucose-related, hyperthyroidism, or heart problems), psychological stressors or mental health issues (i.e., grief, depression), and overuse of stimulants such as caffeine, sugar, and even some medications (i.e., ADHD medication).

Keeping a record of when panic attacks occur can be helpful in identifying what triggers them. As a rule, if you experience any of the symptoms of panic attacks, it is a good idea to see your doctor to make sure there is no medical cause. Once this has been done, and if panic attacks continue, working with a Deaf mental health professional (i.e, counselor, psychotherapist, psychologist, or social worker) can be helpful in managing the attacks.

A mental health professional can work with you to help you understand your panic attacks better, teach you breathing and relaxation exercises, and show you how to change your thoughts and interpretations of bodily symptoms and/or situations that might precede panic attacks. All of these may be enough to reduce or resolve your panic attacks. If not, medication is also an option.

To cite:

McCullough, C. (2007, November 29). Understanding Panic Attacks. ASC on the Couch. Retrieved (date retrieved), from http://www.ascdeaf.com/blog/?p=330

  1. Diane November 29, 2007

    Smile — I made a comment under Tar’s about my incident. Thanks sharing this with everyone here. Diane

  2. MikeS November 29, 2007

    Thanks for posting this. Right, from yesterday when I said “normal”, I actually had meant ‘common.’ I was suggesting that one needs not to be shameful to seek treatment from this abnormal experience.

  3. SusanA November 29, 2007

    Thank you for sharing with us about panic attacks… good to have knowledge about it.

  4. GoAwayAnxiety November 29, 2007

    Thank you for making vlog relate to this. It is great. So do I already have blogs relate to anxiety/depression for over a year almost 2 years now being doing that blog… Thank you for making vlog I would like to see more Deaf people to understand about anxiety/panic attack/depression etc…

  5. Tar November 29, 2007

    Thank you, Candace A McCullough,
    I really appreciate your vlog about this which helped me to understand more about Anxiety panic Situation. So far, I have made an appointment to see doctor about it.
    I have analyzed myself and I discovered about few subjects that may cause this…

    I drank coffee “express” during night then ate 2 chocolate bars at same time I was under stress which is major cause this… I stopped doing this and been eat health food and drank lot of water.. It getting better since 2 days now.. Yes, of course.. I am still paranoid about coming back but it keeps fading away in each day now… It is amazing experience for me and I will never go through like this again. Thank you so much again..
    – Tar

  6. WAD November 30, 2007

    Good topic! I had panic attacks in the middle my sleep. It occurred between 54 and 56 minute after falling sleep. It’s amazing how precise my attacks took place. When I woke up with it, I looked at the clock and figure how long ago I went to bed. I went back to sleep easily because I knew it’s only a panic attack. It started a few weeks later after a loss of a loved one and it lasted for approximately five years.

    Keep up with the healthy discussion!

  7. Jean Boutcher November 30, 2007

    What a wonderful topic! Like Diane, I commented about my experience
    on Tar’s vlog at . I experienced a state of shock and black-out from inhaling too much toxic into my bloodstream. This feeling panicked me; therefore, I asked my mother to drive me to Emergency Room to find out. The blood test turned out that I had too much toxic in my bloodstream. I had to take oxygen and medication to wholly cleanse
    the system in my body. Was released in about three, four hours. Daddy experienced a bad shiver from drinking many black caffeinated coffees per day. My former schoolmate went into a state of shock from low gluose (low blood sugar). The nurse immediately put
    a candy bar into her mouth. My friend ate many ears of corn and
    blacked out because of excessive ethanol in her body. Until then
    never did I know that corn has alcohol in it!

  8. hoeyhemp November 30, 2007

    most common doctors give out “xananx” ? to calm thier nerves down.

  9. B.A.D. November 30, 2007

    Candance – thanks for sharing and helping us with this.
    I was wondering is there a difference between ANXIETY VS PANIC attacks?
    I think they are similar, but something is probably a little different?

  10. ASCDEAF November 30, 2007

    Diane – I am glad you found a quick solution to your panic attack. It really is amazing about all the different possible causes, including medication.

    MikeS – Exactly, there’s no shame at all in going to a doctor or therapist to check out symptoms. It’s great to see people share their stories online – almost like group therapy, smile.

    SusanA – Thanks for watching the vlog.

    GoAwayAnxiety – How about signing up your blog with DeafRead.com so more people will see your blogs?

    Tar – Many thanks for bringing up an important topic in your vlog. Sounds like you are doing a good job trying to figure out what caused your two panic attacks. I am glad you will see your doctor, just to rule out anything serious.

    WAD – That’s a good example of how keeping a journal or mental record of the panic attacks can help make more sense of them.

    Jean Boutcher – What an experience you had! Glad you got medical help right away. Very interesting about how your friend’s eating too much corn led her to blackout.

    Hoeyhemp – Yes, Xanax is one of the most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications for panic attacks. Klonopin (clonazepam) is another one.

    B.A.D. – Sometimes people do use the words “panic attack” and “anxiety attack” to mean the same thing, even though they are different. Panic attacks happen very quickly, without warning, and they are very intense and scary. They don’t last very long (less than 10 minutes), but the physical symptoms are so powerful that people mistake them for heart attacks or feel like something is very wrong with their body.

    Anxiety attacks happen more slowly and are much less intense than panic attacks. They often happen when people worry a lot about something going on in their life. They last longer, too.

  11. B.A.D. November 30, 2007

    Candance – thanks for explaining. ONE more thing (smile). Can Anxiety lead to Panic attacks? For example: When one has a cold, and doesn’t take care of themselves, of course it gets worst and they get sick/flu. Like Anxiety if it not addressed, can it become “panic” attack? THAT’S THE LAST QUESTION 🙂

  12. ASCDEAF November 30, 2007

    B.A.D. – Excessive anxiety can lead to panic attacks in some cases, but not always. It is the same as with having a cold. If you don’t take care of it, it may just go away. Or it may get worse and become the flu. Hope this helps.

    Please feel free to ask any questions, anytime – no limits on questions here! 🙂

  13. GoAwayAnxiety November 30, 2007

    ASCDEAF.. I did tried to sign up with deafread. It was rejected due to my blogs arent relate to deaf issues my blogs focus a lot on anxiety/depression oh well. it was never posted in deafread! SHOOT!…

  14. bessie November 30, 2007


    Tar, i m glad that you brought this good topic to discuss about anxiety attack and panic attack.

    I had PA when I was 13 year old. I didn’t tell anyone until twentys’ i thought i was crazy and scary. I hid my feelings. what a challenging. I enrolled Gallaudet University and i was ok but not that great. The PA was fading which it was great but i had anxiety attack. it was better than PA. I was fear of the mall, parties or meetings. About seven year, i became comfortable and strongly.i would not let PA take over me. I agree with you that is NO FUN at all. it is interfere my life. i haven’t told to anyone but i realized i think it is important to share my personal experience with you. You re not the only one.

    I would recommend you to take a walk for 20 minute daily. It is REALLY helpful and it makes you feel energy and good.

    Hoeyhemp- just wanted to be honest with you the meds are not helpful. i would not recommend to take klonopin or xanxan.

    The exercise is important and eat healthy food.

  15. B.A.D. November 30, 2007

    Candance – YES – thank you for the info again 🙂

    Bessie – I totally agree with you, BUT medications can be the last resource. First we must see where our Panic Attacks are COMING FROM, we must look into ourselves, and find out what it is (Emotionally or physcially) then go to the doctors/therapist…get help/talk/get blood test done. Yet sometimes, remember we do not have control over those who have Chemical Imbalance, and medication can be used “temporary” to relieve some anxiety/or panic attacks. Like I said, I’d rather find out what is “CAUSING” it before taking medication.

  16. By the 1st commenter of yours November 30, 2007

    Candance –

    I hope you will make more vlogs about the Mental Health issues — to help us understand better. Stigma is very strong out there. (well … I have been there.)

  17. ASCDEAF December 3, 2007

    Bessie – Yes, exercising is great for mental health. We always encourage
    clients to try natural ways first – exercising, eating healthily, changing
    thinking/behaviors, etc., before trying medication.

    B.A.D. – We agree, medications should be used as a last resort. If
    everything else has been tried and nothing is working, or if it is a
    life-or-death issue, medication can work wonders.

    1st commenter – Are there any specific mental health topics you’d like to
    see in vlogs? We’re open to suggestions from anyone, so send your requests
    our way!

  18. bessie December 4, 2007

    Thanks ASCDEAF for your comments.

    I haven’t see Tar on his vlogs for a while. He oftens put his video on the vlog. Hope he is alright.

    Tar, are you ok?


    Maybe you can share your experience with deaf clients who have low esteem topics how they faced the issues or oppression when they feel threat or cannot write or read something like that and how clients learn the positive how to overcome the negative feeling.

    I had been through being low esteem from family members, co-workers and hearing friends. I after took many courses. Wow… the professor taught me so much. I learned a lot. I improve my skills from school. I feel confidence so do you have any similar issues with deaf clients. I would like to see deafies overcome the fear.

    Thank you.


  19. Lori December 21, 2007

    Hello, I have been having problem with PA or anxiety especially when I am at work.. I think it’s cuz I’ve been dealing with bad issues at my work as it all happens there such as 4th miscarriage, blurry vision, bad sinus then since my blurry vision blocked me from doing my work at dental lab with my head being bent down while I paint and get nervous then I go blurry when my heart start racing , my hands starts to shake really bad, I get sweaty hand then clausphobia with wearing rubber glove when I’ve worked with that job for 6 years and never had problem till 1 month ago. I kept having to go home cuz my head was getting the worse headache from stress, I havent been able to sleep very well due being so worried over nothing. I guess I just get scared of what will happen next since so many things has happened at that spot. Plus my hearing co worker tend to push me down and belittle me which didnt bother me until I went through all those experiences and got into depression. I’m currently on LOA and doctor gave me anti depression in hopes it will help. Now I need to work on not being so nervous, not getting blurry vision when my head is bent down and headache when I bend my head along the anti depression’s assist. Then I should be fine. I want to stay at that job to go in and earn money and leave as my husband works there and I am not able to drive due to seizure so it makes it much easier. Very frustrating!

  20. Nancy brown April 29, 2017

    I am a 20 year old woman diagnosed with severe anxiety attack symptoms disorder and panic attack syndrome. I cannot go too far from my hometown (and indeed sometimes my own home) without feeling anxious and sick to my stomach. It runs in my family,


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