No, panic attacks and anxiety attacks will not harm you or kill you. When you are experiencing a panic attack or anxiety attack, it may feel like you are going to have a heart attack, and that you are going to die. Also when experiencing a panic attack or anxiety attack, you may experience difficulty breathing, chest pains, dizziness, tingling and numbness of your arms and legs, lump in your throat, or butterflies in your stomach. With all these physical symptoms of anxiety, it is no wonder that you may think you are going to be physically harmed, or when severe, that you are going to die. Some people who experience panic or anxiety attacks visit their doctors, or go to the emergency department for fear that they will be harmed or will die from a heart attack. The good news is that panic and anxiety attacks are benign and harmless. They are a result of stress hormones being released into the bloodstream in response to the anxiety, and it prepares you to either stay and fight the danger, or to run from it. Additionally, the panic and anxiety attacks are short-lived, and usually go away in a matter of minutes.
Panic and anxiety attacks are associated with physical sensations that are a result of adrenaline release when you are fearful. Adrenaline is a stress hormone which causes multiple physical symptoms, such as increased heart beat, shortness of breath, tingling sensations in the extremities, and dilated pupils. These physical changes allow for the body to prepare for fighting the danger, or fleeing the danger, the so-called “fight-or-flight response. In a panic attack, although it may feel like you are dying or having a heart attack, it will not harm you or kill you…you just need to recognize that it is a panic attack, then ride it out, as panic attacks come and go. The anxious individual often has thoughts which overestimates the actual level of the threat, underestimates his or her ability to cope with the threat, and overestimates the seriousness of the likely outcome- so this may seem like it may harm the person, but the thoughts are usually not accurate.
The next time you have a panic attack or anxiety attack, instead of visiting your doctor or going to the emergency department, consider learning techniques to help calm and eradicate your panic attacks and anxiety attacks. To get the help you need to deal with panic and anxiety attacks, get my book on anxiety, Anxiety Protocol.