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Why Do I Have a Panic Attack Every Time I Feel Any Sort of Emotion?

Asked by on with 1 answer:

I have had anxiety issues forever, but in the last couple of years, it’s getting worse. I am mostly numb inside, but if I start to feel any type of emotion, I immediately begin to have a panic attack.

Example:
I was visiting my daughter out of state. We don’t see each other often. The morning I was to leave for the airport to go home, she started to cry because she would miss me. I started to feel bad and immediately, my heart starts pounding, I can’t breathe, and all I can think about is my impending panic attack.

Even if I laugh really hard, I start to have a panic attack. While laughing I will start to feel short of breath, feel my heart pounding in my head. Then that’s all I can focus on and I begin to panic.

I have basically turned into a hermit because of this. I have no relationship, I don’t go out much at all, don’t see many people other than a few close friends and family. I feel I have nothing to offer anyone. But I know this is no way to live. It hasn’t always been like this. I used to feel love and joy and sadness, etc. I’d like to be able to feel them again, but I’m scared of the panic attacks. (From the USA)

Why Do I Have a Panic Attack Every Time I Feel Any Sort of Emotion?

Answered by on -

A.

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,

Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Why Do I Have a Panic Attack Every Time I Feel Any Sort of Emotion?

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2020). Why Do I Have a Panic Attack Every Time I Feel Any Sort of Emotion?. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/04/21/why-do-i-have-a-panic-attack-every-time-i-feel-any-sort-of-emotion/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 21 Apr 2020 (Originally: 21 Apr 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 21 Apr 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.