Last time I outlined for you what a person having a panic attack might experience. Today I want to pick this experience apart and help you to see what goes into one.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I focus on the heart extensively here because the Bible has so much to say about it and how the heart determines our actions. It should not surprise you that the heart is a major player in a panic attack.
In Scripture the heart is the center of your core desires. Your mind, will and emotions are servants of your heart in meeting its needs. The heart is what causes the mind to think on what it thinks, the emotions to react the way they do, and the will to act the way it does. Matt. 6:21— P. Steve Lehrer
Thoughts are what drive a panic attack. Something a person is thinking about is driving the emotions and triggering responses in the body’s endocrine systems. As an example of this, think about someone who thinks they hear footsteps in the house in the middle of the night. The simple thought of, “Intruder!” sets off a chain of events in the body. Physical systems are God-given and intended to warn us of danger, and give us the sudden bursts of energy and strength needed in an emergency situation. You may have heard of the “fight or flight” urge. This instant impulse is driven by the thought that you are in danger. Your thoughts race with that possibility and your body then releases a flood of various hormones into your bloodstream that accelerates your heart rate, allows you to increase lung capacity, and gives you in some cases superhuman strength! This all takes place in fractions of seconds, and it is all begun with a thought! It may be that there were no footsteps at all just the settling of your house. However, your body reacts the same way to imagined danger or stress as it does to real danger or stress.
A person who has panic attacks is operating the same way as a person who believes they are in danger even when there is no danger at all. The thoughts the person is thinking evoke such strong emotions that they are able to cause their body to think there is danger when in reality there is not.
These people do not understand that their thoughts are what bring on these attacks because it feels like something powerful and beyond their control sweeps over them. I have heard it described like something they can sense coming but cannot stop, and that it is like something lurking around the corner waiting to jump out and attack them. The sensations are so unpleasant that the sufferer will do almost anything to hold them at bay. Many times they alter their entire lifestyle to avoid a panic attack by discontinuing activities and even relationships to avoid experiencing those feelings. The world becomes smaller and smaller for them as more and more things cause a panic attack and what we ultimately see is a person develops a fear of the fear.
I have seen people bound by fear this way many times in my counseling ministry. The good news, actually, the GREAT news, is there is hope! No one has to live like this! Jesus came to set the captives free from all sin; sinful thoughts, beliefs, desires, and actions. If you are one who suffers from panic attacks, please come again and continue to follow this blog. I believe you can find help and hope here because the solution is based on the Word of God and its application to your life.