“Last month, my boyfriend took himself to the hospital emergency room, three times because he was dying”

This may well appear to be the most sensible thing one could do in a life threatening situation, yet for Brian, this was not life threatening and on all three occasions he was back home within an hour. Sounds peculiar, but each time this happens, Brian is convinced that he is going to choke to death or undergo cardiac failure. Still sounds peculiar?

This type of behaviour is in fact quite common and is an escalating condition in today’s turbulent and often stressful world. This condition is one of the anxiety disorders known as a “panic attack,” characterized by intense feelings of terror, difficulty in breathing, heart palpitations, chest pains, dizziness and a fear of dying, just to name a few.

Apart from this, each attack is often precipitated by a compounding fear from the previous attack. Panic disorders can become completely debilitating, adversely affecting one’s occupation, relationships and general social functioning. It may appear obvious enough that panic attacks have a major negative impact upon one’s life, yet it is often the ignorance of the person experiencing the disorder that enables the disorder to continue.

Mental health is far less stigmatized today than it was in the previous decade, yet most people suffering from some form of mental disorder appear to believe that this is merely how life is supposed to be! Thankfully, people experiencing panic disorder or other forms of mental disorders, help is available and life does not have to be a stressful continuum punctuated only by paranoia and intense fear.

If you can relate to Brian’s predicament, or know of friends or family members experiencing panic attacks, call the Depression and Anxiety Support Group on (011) 783 1474 or 783 1476. The Depression and Anxiety Support Group has been operating since 1995 and has a substantial referral network of specialists and support groups who have a special interest in anxiety disorders and depression.