alcohol abuse

Panic Attack vs Heart Attack: Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack

A panic attack isn’t dangerous. But the symptoms are a lot like those of heart attacks or other health problems that do need emergency treatment.

How do you know if you should go to the ER? If you’ve never had a panic attack and you’re having chest pain, go to the hospital. A doctor should check to make sure you’re not having a serious medical problem. Risk factors for a heart attack include high blood pressure, being overweight, having a close family member who has had a heart attack, and smoking.

Panic attacks are mostly misdiagnosed as heart attacks and most people end up in the ER because of it. Panic attacks can be frightening but are fortunately not physically harmful. They can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, unprovoked, and can be disabling. Panic attacks may occur for no known reason or after a person is exposed "trigger". They can intensity to a peak rapidly and also go away with or without medical intervention.

Panic Attack Symptoms Can Feel Similar to a Heart Attack

Panic Attack Symptoms Can Feel Similar to a Heart Attack

Symptoms of panic attacks may include palpitations, pounding heart, fast heart rate, sweating, trembling and shaking, sensations of shortness of breath or smothering, feelings of chocking, chest pain or discomfort, nausea, upset stomach, dizziness, unsteadiness, lightheadedness, feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself, fear of losing control or going crazy, fear of dying, chills, hot flashes, and numbness or tingling sensations.

The American Psychiatric Association's official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV, Treatment Revision (DSM-IV-TR) defines a panic attack as a discrete period of intense fear, distress, nervousness or discomfort, in which four (or more) of the following symptoms develop abruptly and reach a peak within 10 minutes:

·         Palpitations, pounding heart, or fast heart rate

·         Sweating

·         Trembling and shaking

·         Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering

·         Feelings of chocking

·         Chest pain or discomfort

·         Nausea or abdominal distress

·         Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint

·         Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)

·         Fear of losing control or going crazy

·         Fear of dying

·         Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations)

·         Chills or hot flashes

If you have most of the symptoms above, chances are you are suffering from panic disorder. If so, you are not alone. More than 3 million American adults have, or will have, panic disorder. Most frequently, it starts in young adulthood. Usually, it does not go away by itself. But with proper treatment, people with panic disorder can be helped.

Feeling alone and Hopeless

Feeling alone and Hopeless

You do not have to live this way. You need to know that panic disorder is treatable. In fact, proper treatment reduces or completely prevents panic attacks in 70 to 90 percent of people. Many people feel substantial relief in just weeks or months.

Unfortunately, some people are reluctant to pursue treatment. Perhaps they think their condition is not serious. Perhaps they feel embarrassed. They may blame themselves or have trouble asking for help. Perhaps they dislike the idea of medication or therapy. Or, maybe they have sought help but are frustrated because their condition was not diagnosed or treated effectively.

If you have panic disorder, you should get whatever help is necessary to overcome it, just as you would for any serious medical illness.

Why is Alcohol Abuse such a Problem among young Professionals?

I work mostly with young professional who are well accomplished yet some suffer from anxiety, some have symptoms of depression, and some of them struggle in silent from alcohol abuse. These young professionals report long hours of work going at frantic pace. In addition, a competitive environment and pressure to succeed can contribute to making the job of a professional extremely stressful.

Research shows that some professionals such as lawyer and doctors struggle with depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders at higher rates than other professions. Despite the well-known toll that working in a high-intensity, demanding field can take, lawyers or doctors are typically unwilling to admit when they were struggling.


The stigma and fear associated with seeking help for mental health and substance use issues are especially problematic for most well accomplished professionals such as lawyers, doctors, real-estate brokers, occupational therapist, accountants etc...

There is the tremendous fear that if anyone finds out that you have a substance abuse problem, even if it’s successfully treated, it will somehow get you fired, get you into trouble with the disciplinary board, and have your peers whispering about you around the water cooler. The fear is that somehow it may be used against you.

Young professionals struggling with their mental health or substance abuse disorders do their best to keep the conditions hidden and suffered in silence. Only when alcohol and drug use got out of control and they get caught using on the job, displayed erratic behavior, incurred substance use-related arrests, or could no longer perform their legal duties, do they come to the attention of their employer or disciplinary boards. Then, the matter either becomes grounds for these professionals being fired or subject to disciplinary action. These attitudes are starting to change. Promoting wellness at work and helping the ones struggling with substance abuse, mental health or behavioral disorders is a necessity. Acknowledging that mental health disorders and substance abuse are health issues that can be successfully treated and overcome in many cases.

By focusing on treatment and not punishment, mental health programs can allow all types of professionals to regain control over their mental health symptoms and alcohol abuse.

Sejdaras Psy.D & Associates provides treatment for young professionals by matching clients with highly skilled therapists who are experienced with diagnosing and treating a wide range of substance abuse and mental health disorders. To encourage young professionals struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction and mental health disorders to proactively seek help, we provide totally confidential assessments, referrals and ongoing support to help remain substance free.

We need to change our culture and make it cool to seek help when it’s needed. If you need to go to rehab, it doesn’t mean you’re not a fierce trial lawyer, amazing doctor, great financial advisor, or a hard working health care provider; it means you’re a fierce professional who is also courageous and smart enough to engage in appropriate self care and self compassion.