Is It A Panic Attack Or Heart Attack?

I hope everyone is still hanging in there! Remember anxiety attacks are just temporary. Nothing more than over the top adrenaline rushes in which you play a silly mind trick on yourself and convince yourself that something terrible is going to happen. That's it! They do go away, and you can certainly live a wonderful, happy life after overcoming panic attacks and agoraphobia, just hang in there!

Also, I'd like to say that just to make sure that it really is just a panic attack and not a heart issue, you really should get yourself checked out every once in a while, but not every day. I was a major hypochondriac in my time of worry and would've sat in the hospital parking lot all day long if I could've. lol

When I used to get chronic, intense panic attacks I would always be terrified that maybe this time it was the beginning of a heart attack! This in spite of the fact that I was a perfectly healthy male in my early to mid twenties. As soon as I felt that adrenaline start to course through my body, and I knew that I was about to suffer a panic attack, the first thing I became cognizant of was my heart beat, and how much faster and more intense it would get. I was absolutely convinced that this time was it, my heart just couldn't take any more and it was going to give! Despite the fact that this had happened to me countless times before, I was sure that this was it, I was going to drop any second now.

This situation is increasingly common. The reason that so many people think they're having a heart attack during a panic attack is pretty logical. A panic attack is just an adrenaline rush. It's your body going into the fight or flight response fo no reason whatsoever, but since there's nothing to fight with, or run from, your mind often just invents something to be afraid of. If there's no external threat, then you may become hyper-focused internally, and what sensations are taking place in your body. Of course, you just happen to be pumping tons of adrenaline through your blood, and your heart is racing a mile a minute at a moment that your senses are piqued, so viola! I must be having a heart attack..., no?

Panic attacks ruined my life for years. If you've read any of my other posts before then you know, that during this time, I was afraid to go outside, exercise, literally do anything at all. I would get them continually, and every time I had one it just reinforced the idea in my mind making it even more intense and painting me deeper and deeper into a corner, till one day I just had enough. Eventually I realized that I wasn't going to die of a heart attack. I've had these a million times before, each time they're very unpleasant but still, they always end the same, and that's when things started to turn around for me.

Once you know that its just in your mind the only thing to do is to accept that and let go, accept that its only a rush and enjoy it for what it is, you take the power away from panic attacks. Of course it's much easier said than done and it does take time, but it is very possible. I was once an extreme agoraphobic, but now I travel the world, have great experiences, eat what I want, take the subway in my native NYC. Things that once provoked gut-wrenching fear in me, have now become routine. In fact I became so fond of my adrenaline rushes that I pushed myself even further to experience them, traveling to different continents alone, just because I sought to make up for all the excitement that I had missed. And you can do it to!, so just hang in there, life gets so much better when you overcome panic attacks and agoraphobia. Believe me, things get better!

I hope that little bit of info helps. I also have a blog that I keep to chronicle how I overcame my panic attacks and agoraphobia in case anyone one would like to check it out. Not sure if I can post links on this forum but it’s (Live-Panic-Free) followed by “Dot” and the usual 3 characters you find at the end of a site.
Lifeafterpanic566 Lifeafterpanic566
31-35, M
2 Responses Jan 12, 2013

Hi Sweetpea, you sound an awful lot like me a few years ago. On the bright side, you are making progress, and the first few steps are often the most arduous. Trying to stop your panic inducing thoughts is almost impossible, it's like not thinking about pink elephants after someone tells you "don't think about pink elephants". I went about it a different way. It's much more effective to learn to overcome the panic attack itself when it hits, because then when you stop fearing panic attacks, it really doesn't matter what you think of beforehand. the usual flow is:

negative thoughts -> anxiety -> panic

But if you stop fearing the panic attack itself, then it doesn't matter what you think of, because there is no next step. Since there's no next step, the negative thoughts become less emotional and fade away like all other thoughts.

I know it's so much easier said than done, but it is possible, it takes practice and you have to hang in there! Good luck, and let me know how it goes

I will never get used to panic attacks. They don't keep me inside anymore but I still fear them. I hate the feeling (thinking) that I won't be able to breathe and no one is around to help me. Praying calms me but does not take away the panic. Panic rules my life as I don't like to go too far from home fearing I will never get back. I've tried to change my thinking but that is easier said than done. Doctors don't help. I do what they say and nothing will ever make the attacks go away. My mind always goes back to what if I can't breath and lots of times it feels that way. I feel so very alone.