Four reasons why i hate the term panic attack.

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I really dislike the terms panic attack and anxiety attack, but I have no idea what we should call them. Here’s why I dislike them…

They don’t describe what I feel or think.

On those occasions I have suffered with one of these, panic was not the top of the list of how I thought or felt, sometimes that feeling did not feature at all.

I remember feeling pins and needles in my arms, tightness in my chest, pain in my stomach and dizziness. Sometimes I would get upset, sometimes I would be totally in control, I would just be witnessing what was happening in my body.

The title seems to imply it’s in the mind.

The hardest symptoms to tackle weren’t in my mind. For me it was all physical symptoms I struggled with the most. At times I literally felt like I was going to pass out.

They make it feel like a weakness.

The term panic attack would make me feel like I was less effective as a human, because I was not being calm and controlled. I would question why I couldn’t control my emotions.

They make it harder to recognise

I spent months not recognising I was having panic attacks because I was missing the key Ingredient panic, I never felt out of breath or panicked. Having seen people suffer with them the before the loss of control over their breathing appeared a key ingredient I was missing.


So what should they be called?

Honestly I am not sure, brain attack, nervous system attack… who knows. All I can say is that I don’t think the current title does justice the extent and challenge of the body’s physical reaction. It feels unbalanced in drawing out one symptom or cause.

How can you help yourself when a label is unhelpful?

Labels can be many things, find ones that work for you or ditch them entirely.
  • There are lots of labels in life. Pick your own if you find this term helpful own it. If you find it disempowering or derogatory find a different one.
  • Don’t get hung up on a name. Sometimes diagnosis can be helpful to sign post you to extra help. It is just that, a sign post, it is not the journey or the destination. We all have a totally unique one of those.

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