Understanding Panic
 

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Let's take another of the most common scary thoughts: the fear of fainting.  Many people with panic attacks have a fear of fainting.  The sensation of light-headedness and/or dizziness can make us think that we are about to faint.  But the reality is that panic does not cause fainting.  

Panic causes the sensations of light-headedness and dizziness, but it DOES NOT cause fainting!  Fainting is caused by a big drop in blood pressure.  During panic or anxiety, our blood pressure does not drop.  In fact, it's likely to go up a bit.  So -- believe it or not -- there is virtually NO CHANCE of fainting as a result of panic.  There is actually less of a chance of fainting during panic than at any other time. 

The sensations of light-headedness and dizziness are caused by over-breathing, also called "hyperventilating".  Hyperventilating causes sensations that are sometimes scary, but these sensations are actually completely harmless.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches you and convinces you, little by little, that panic does not result in fainting, and that the sensations of lightheadedness are completely harmless.  The techniques are very powerful.  As you gradually come to believe the truth -- that panic does not cause fainting -- your anxiety and panic become less and less.  This is the power of CBT.

Ask yourself about how many times you have experienced panic or high anxiety.  50 times?  100 times?  200 times?  How many of those times did you faint?  So, what are the chances you will faint the next time you experience panic or high anxiety?  The right answer is.... ZERO!

Thousands of people with panic disorder have been studied.  The instances of people fainting during panic are extremely rare.  It's more common to find people who faint from standing up!  People faint for many reasons, but not from panic!

By the way, fainting is a self-protective reflex.  We need a certain amount of blood pressure to pump blood to the brain, since we are going uphill.  If our blood pressure were to suddenly drop, this could endanger circulation to the brain.  So, to protect the brain, the fainting reflex brings the brain down to the level of the heart.  

Fainting is rarely dangerous.  When people faint, they kind of slump and go limp.  Usually within a few seconds, they wake up.  It's rare that someone would be seriously injured by fainting.  So, even if you did have a fainting spell, it's very unlikely you would be injured.  But, if you want to find this out first-hand, it will be a lot easier to faint once you overcome panic disorder!

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