Q: I thought I was having a heart attack but my physician says that it is all due to stress and anxiety and she suggested counselling. Does this make sense to you?
A: Panic and anxiety disorders seem to have reached near epidemic proportions in our society today. Crowds, stress and the general pace of today’s lifestyle all contribute to this condition. It’s no wonder you thought you were having a heart attack. Many of the symptoms seem much the same. These include :
·nervous or panicky feelings
·trembling or shaking
·shortness of breath
·confusion & “spaced out” feelings
·fear of public embarrassment, of losing your mind and of losing control
When having an anxiety attack, the person can often feel their heart beating with an irregular rhythm, which adds to the fear and further convinces them that they have heart problems. They frequently become semi-isolated because they begin to be afraid to go out, to be in crowds or to be anywhere where they feel that “escape” would be difficult or embarrassing. They sit near doors to allow for a quick exit. They do not go to parties or malls. Once someone has had one anxiety attack, they often begin to fear a recurrence and this fear then precipitates another attack. As you can see, it forms a vicious cycle.
This disorder generally responds well to counselling. Frequently, a multimodal approach is used—this means using more than one technique to deal with the condition. Your physician may prescribe medication to help you relax, as well as counselling so that you can make the necessary changes. Anxiety or panic attacks do not have to be a permanent condition, no matter how long you have suffered. If you have ruled out a medical problem, and whether you are in favour of medication or not, counselling can help you get back your life.