Panic Disorder

One of my best friends, Caitlin, has always had severe panic attacks, starting at a young age. When I was younger, I never really knew what to think about it and after learning about Panic Disorder, I now understand. Panic disorder is defined as a disorder in which panic attacks occur frequently enough to cause the person difficulty in adjusting to daily life. Caitlin often has to avoid situations that could cause stress to her, like large cities, amusement parks, but it also can occur from a simple stressful situation at school. A panic attack is a sudden onset of intense panic in which multiple physical symptoms of stress occur, often with feelings that one is dying. I know that Caitlin would always tell me it felt as if she was having a heart attack or a stroke and I would laugh and call her a drama queen, but now I realize that it may in fact feel as if she is. I never really took her symptoms seriously enough until one day, when she had the worst of all panic attacks. It was graduation day. Everyone was so happy to be moving on after four years of torture. I saw Caitlin right before the ceremony and she looked totally fine. Finally, I took my turn and walked on stage, received my diploma from my principal, shook some hands, and returned to my seat with no sweat. When it was Caitlin’s turn, I realized that nobody was walking up. I looked over to the side where the students stood in line and prepared to walk on stage and I saw something that broke my heart. Caitlin was moving very slowly, holding onto a nearby teacher. She was shaking throughout her whole body as if she was having a seizure, hardly breathing, and could hardly move. Everyone around me stared at me, knowing I was her best friend, and I eventually ran up to her after she finally made her way to get her diploma. She told me it was her worst panic attack yet and that she thought she was going to die. Everything ended up being okay, it was merely I very scary situation and extremely embarrassing for my friend. After this situation, Caitlin’s panic attacks have seemed to also gotten worse. She has told me of one she had while in the car near Temple University, where she actually ended up having to go to the emergency room, and also of one in her public speaking class in college. I can’t imagine to have to worry about having a panic attack everywhere I went. At this point, I think Caitlin has even developed panic disorder with agoraphobia, which is the fear of leaving one’s familiar surroundings because one might have a panic attack. Caitlin’s fear of having panic attacks has risen, and it has affected her life in many ways. She feels as if she can’t do normal things that she used to do in every day life.

7 thoughts on “Panic Disorder

  1. Michael Grasso

    I think your post seems so genuine and feels very empathetic towards her situation. I can’t fathom knowing that at any point in time a sudden flood of nervous emotion could cripple my activities and tasks. I really can’t imagine how much of a burden that must be. The closest I can attest to experiencing is feeling stressed because of relationships and exams. I really hope she is able to cope with this struggle through her aging process later in life because I’m sure it won’t get any easier as the stresses of work, school and family only continue to intensify.

  2. Laxhmi Ashlee Ramjit

    I am so sorry to hear that your friend has to deal with panic attacks so regularly. I also suffer from panic attacks, but I have found ways to deal with them. I know how scary it is to just be expecting it to happen and having no control over it. But, I have learned to do calming exercises when I feel like I am about to have one. Hopefully, your friend finds a way to deal with her panic attacks!

  3. Thomas Rainier Marciante

    Panic disorder is so scary to think about and I have no idea how some people are able to deal with it. I grew up with bad anxiety, in high school I would have a minor anxiety attack at least once a day but it didn’t last very long and I would usually be able to calm myself down just by breathing. The fact that your friends panic attack also happen during graduation, a time that is suppose to be a very exciting moment for us, is terrible. It’s strange to see that even positive moments in life can trigger someone to have a panic attack as long as it would make them nervous in some way or another. I can’t imagine what I would do at State College when I’m 4 hours away from home. After doing some reading online I agree with you that your friend suffers from agoraphobia and it was a very smart observation on your part.

  4. Alina Maria Proano Alvarez

    I can totally relate to this experience of you friend Caitlin. I used to get the word panic attacks. That isa time of my life I hate to remember. I remember having panic tacks any where and everywhere I went. I didn’t matter the place, the people or what the circumstances were. Everything was inside my head to the moment I conditioned my self to negative thoughts or feelings a panic attack arisen. Of course there where certain places that gave my bad memories so brought allot of anxiety, tension and fear, so getting a panic attack there was worse. It was completely out of my control. Sometimes it lasted for 1 minute, sometimes for 3, but those seemed to be endless seconds. Every time I would just lay down wherever I could and calm my breathing. What scared me the most was my hard because It pumped so intensely, that I also thought Ii could’ve had a heart attack. It was really a such a terrifying experience.

  5. Carly Elizabeth Shank

    That sounds so scary! I could never imagine living with a panic disorder. I have anxiety and I think that’s bad. Your friend is so strong to be able to handle and go through life having to deal with those attacks. Especially the one you mentioned on graduation. I really found this post interesting because I have never heard an actual real-life story of someone with a panic disorder. It sounds terrifying. I hope you can give your friend support and hope she can receive any kind of help that may help with her condition!

  6. Macee E Kensinger

    I used to have anxiety attacks up to 3 times a week before I started an anti-anxitey medication. Even though I haven’t suffered an anxiety attack in months, I remember the choking, shaking, tensing feeling that would come due to a trigger. I could NOT imagine having to deal with it as frequently as your friend, or for the rest of my life. This post was very interesting to read and quite relatable as well. I guess I am left wondering if there is any type of medication that could improve such a disorder, because it is a terrible way to live.

  7. Taylor Cameron

    This is crazy! I could not imagine being in her position and having to deal with a panic attack on day to day basis. Currently, I am not aware of anybody that I know personally who has this panic disorder, but your blog post really made me think about my life and the people around me. My sister has a fear of roller coasters and before this I never really thought anything of it. But, whenever I try to get her to ride one with me, she always freaks out and says she can’t do it. Maybe I am underestimating her reaction! Perhaps she too is having some form of a panic attack surrounding roller coasters and heights, which could explain why she gets so scared.

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