Top 10 Self-help tips about Why Panic Attacks Are Different From Phobias
Why panic attacks are different from simple phobias?
There is an important difference between simple phobia’s and panic disorder. A simple phobia is extremely common and it affects almost everyone. I bet if you ask people on the street most would admit to being afraid of something - spiders, heights, public speaking, etc.
With panic attacks the fear comes from within. There is no external thing (although the sufferer may think there is) which is causing the fear. What the person is actually suffering from is the fear of having a panic attack in the situation, and what might happen to them.
Although you can state you have panic attacks when you see a spider, climb heights or undertake public speaking, it’s the fear of having the panic attack in that scenario rather than the actual environment. Dr Claire Weekes was one of the first to recognize this and I thoroughly recommend you read you read her book Self Help For Your Nerves. It’s the complete bible for understanding panicky feelings.
The treatments are different……………
If you were to have a fear of heights after being stuck high off the ground on the big wheel at a fair ground, the rehabilitation program would be simple. You would gradually be exposed to heights until you built up your confidence again coupled with relaxation techniques.
If you have a fear within of your inability to cope, then this is different fear. This fear can spread to other areas. Let’s go back to the fairground ride example. If you’re stuck on the fairground ride again and you started to experience a panic attack, it’s quite possible you don’t understand what a panic attack is.
You probably wouldn’t know how to deal with it and be bewildered by the experience. You then might start to feel panicky in other situations. For example if you get into an elevator you may start thinking negatively about getting stuck inside on the 13th floor. Then you might to start to think about the next time you go on a plane that something might go wrong, etc, etc.
Do you see it’s not a simple fear of a situation, person or creature. It’s a fear of fear itself. It’s the dread of not being able to cope with your own anxieties.
If your friend is afraid of spiders and you show them picture of a spider they would probably be scared. If you show a panic sufferer a picture of a supermarket it will not evoke any fears. With a panic attack sufferer they know that walking into a busy supermarket will not hurt them but they’re afraid of the feelings and sensations when they enter. This is a different kind of fear.