Panic at the Disco (and the NBA sidelines… and school… and home…)

Kevin Love, a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team (yes, there are more players than just Lebron James, although some of these finals games may appear otherwise) reports following the symptoms in the middle of a basketball game: shortness of breath, heart racing, feeling like he was about to die. He abruptly left the game and was checked out at a hospital; all the tests came back normal. He had just experienced his first panic attack. He penned a wonderful piece for The Players Tribune going into detail about his panic attack, his misconceptions about mental health, and why it’s important to him to decrease the stigma of mental health.  Bravo, Kevin!  This fits right in with this year’s Mental Health Health theme – “#CureStigma.” One of the best ways to cure stigma is to educate –so here we go!

A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort and may include some of the following symptoms: heart racing or pounding, sweating, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath, chest pain, feeling dizzy, sensation of choking, numbness/tingling, fear of dying, etc. These symptoms can mimic a severe health condition, like a heart attack, so it’s common for people to go to an emergency department for an evaluation.

Contrary to popular belief, panic attacks can occur during either a calm state (“out of nowhere” is the expression my patients tend to use, but the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders calls it “unexpected”) or during period of increased stress or specific cause (“expected”).  Sometimes, you cannot pinpoint what triggered a panic attack. And not everyone who experiences a panic attack has an underlying mental health disorder, like panic disorder or another anxiety disorder.

If you experience panic attacks or symptoms that could be related to panic, please contact your health care provider. Mental health treatment, including therapy and/or medications, can help to prevent panic attacks or give you options to deal with a panic attack if one comes. You do not need to suffer in silence!

Due to the candor of Kevin Love (and that the Milwaukee Bucks are no longer in the playoffs), I will now be cheering for Cleveland in the NBA playoffs. Go Cavs!

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