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Panic Disorder: Chemical Imbalance or Blocked Emotions?

by Dr. Blumberg on August 22, 2010

What Causes Powerful Panic Symptoms “Out of the Blue”?

 Intense physical symptoms of dizziness, chest pain, shallow breathing, weakness and rubbery legs seem so intense that both the Doctor and the Patient believe the source is a medical condition.  After multiple medical investigations, doctor visits, and several trips to the ER, Sara* a 24 year recently married nurse, realized the there was nothing medically causing her panic attack symptoms.   She also learned that her frightening thoughts of “heart attack, die, and lose my mind, I will never get out of this”, just caused her panic symptoms to worsen. She finally accepted the diagnosis of panic disorder.

The Chemical Imbalance Theory

But what set off that first attack that took her to the ER in an ambulance at 2:00am?  Her life was running very smoothly.  She was happily married, with a new successful occupation and rich social relationships.

She had consulted several Doctors who explained she had a “Chemical Imbalance in her brain”.  They urged her to start a trial of anti-panic medications and told her she might have to use the medication on and off throughout her life to regulate her brain chemistry.

Sara was terrified of the idea of putting chemicals in her body.  She was even reluctant to take an aspirin for a tension-based headache.  When she read about the side effects of anti-panic medications, she feared she would develop every one of them!  She worried even more, when she thought about her plans to get pregnant in the next six months. 

Blocked Emotions as a Trigger for Panic Symptoms “Out of the Blue”

 When I met with Sara in her first visit, I immediately reassured her that there was a scientifically based drug-free alternative to living panic free. But, Sara was insistent on discovering “Why am I suffering from panic attacks “Out of the Blue?” 

Here is what I told Sara:

  “The first panic attack strike that took you to the ER did not come on “Out of the Blue”.  There is a direct and immediate connection between ongoing stressors and the onset of panic symptoms.  The most common core stressors that build up and precede the onset of panic are related to interpersonal conflict and loss/separation and the fear of coping alone. These stressors are very complex and are not easily recognized at the beginning of the training program.  You may find yourself minimizing the effects of these stressors in your life.  Panic patients tend to be emotional stuffers. They hold in their feelings and, often time, don’t realize what is bothering them, until the stress builds and builds.  In the final phase of the panicLINK program, I will take you through an eight step self-discovery method that will lead you to uncovering the core emotional trigger for your first attack.  Once you master your core trigger, you will stop recurring panic attacks and live a panic-free life.”

*References to real persons, places and events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended in any way to be libelous, defamatory or in any way factual.

This educational information should always be used in consultation with your doctor to confirm a diagnosis and review available treatments for panic disorder.



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