Panic attacks are horrible. I used to get them as a kid, still get them occasionally.
They’re definitely real. Believe me, you DON’T want them. The world’s closing in on you, feels like your chest is imploding or exploding, your mind races, voices chattering, tunnel vision.
My nephew had a panic attack on the 2nd day of school (and nobody told him that’s what it was but when he described the symptoms I recognized it from myself), is going to have to occasionally deal with them I suspect.
[he also realized he had one last year and had the additional symptom of throwing up unexpectedly. He didn’t want to. Just all the symptoms then, BLURP, all over the desk].
That’s not to say everybody’s honest. He doesn’t want them. I sure never wanted mine.
How is it measured? I don’t know. Can it be faked? Most people are bad actors but a really good actor might be able to elicit the symptoms. But since most people are bad at acting I suspect most fakers could be spotted by someone who knows.
Anyway, yes, they’re real.
What sucks about them is they last for SO LONG. Any reports that say “they last for 10 minutes” is off base I think. It takes about 45 minutes to get back to normal.
Maybe the worst of it is 10 minutes, but you’re barely functional for about 45 minutes total. Just useless. Maybe elevated levels of fight/flight chemicals? That’d be my guess.
But it’s not nerves or nervousness. It doesn’t have to have a direct cause.
I used to get them on sunday nights, around 9pm. Still do occasionally. I figured out why once. It’s because the next day was school. or work. In short, a learned response to the schedule. Pavlovian. Not easily broken, not completely.
“toughening up” isn’t the answer either. Mere distracting doesn’t really work. Biofeedback which helps you monitor yourself, or medication. I’m sure there’s other treatments as well.