On the surface, a panic attacks come with a pounding heart, dizziness, feelings of weakness, sweating and sometimes feeling of numbness with flush or a chill. There can also be chest pain that is often misinterpreted as a heart attack a sense of being smothered or a feeling of impending. It is also not uncommon for some to believe they are losing their mind, losing control. Sometimes the feeling is so overwhelming that it feels as if death is imminent or the person is having a stroke. They can occur anytime and can even be anticipated or expected. Women have the disorder twice as much as men, and it is common for chronic panic attacks to lead to other phobias, depression, and alcohol or drug abuse.
While the causes of panic attacks can vary my experience is in understanding that they are often rooted in a fear of real or imagined separation. Nearly every person I’ve treated over the past 35 years had significant anxiety beneath their panic. Most often there was no knowledge that the two were connected. The panic seemed to come out of the blue, but it was not long after or during a time when a separation or fear of one was present.
If I may, let me review your opening information about your example. I’m going to highlight what you’ve said: “The morning I was to leave for the airport to go home, she started to cry because she would miss me.”
To my way of thinking this is exactly the cause. The therapy would help to highlight the fear of separation (which would fit with the fact you don’t see each other often), and then techniques for reducing the anxiety would be introduced — breathing methods, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) meditation, medication and the like.
Knowing more consciously what the potential activator is tends to help more than anything else. But this is only what I can share from my experience. Others go directly to the core of the symptoms and employ the techniques for managing those without looking for insight. It typically depends on the training and skills of the therapist, as well as the frequency of the attacks.
Here is a brief video from our site that may be of help.
Wishing you patience and peace,