How to Dodge a Speeding Freight Train

There may be a way for you to see a panic attack coming from some distance away and be able to get out of the way before it runs you over in the usual freight train fashion.

I came across a study done at Southern Methodist University that indicates people who suffer panic attacks have some physiological symptoms nearly an hour before the dreaded event. Most people who have panic attacks will tell you they come on suddenly, without warning. But after reading this study I recall that I had vague symptoms before many of my panic attacks, but didn’t know what to do about them.  I probably didn’t recognize the indicators for what they meant.

It’s been more than 20 years since I suffered a panic attack, but I recall that I often experienced tightness in my jaw leading up to yet another series of panic attacks. The study continuously monitored panic disorder patients employing heart rates, respiration and skin conductive responses. Researchers noted marked changes in these areas for panic attack victims, noting the changes were similar to those experienced by people about to experience a stroke, seizure or even manic episodes.

One notable change in people leading up to a panic attack was in breathing: monitors noted decreased and shallower breathing with increased levels of carbon dioxide. High levels of carbon dioxide are associated with panic attacks, according to the study.

I’ve posted a link to the article on the Medscape website. Read it and try to recall experiences you may have had with “aura” like feelings or bodily changes preceding a panic attack. Now that I know that my tightened jaw and shallow breathing were symptoms of an upcoming attack, I’m certain I could have taken steps to avoid an attack.  Next time you’re experiencing some pre-panic symptoms, begin daily regimens of deep breathing and positive imaging to turn the panic monster away.


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