In the fall of my sophomore year of college, I began suffering from debilitating panic attacks, the first two of which were so bad I landed myself in the emergency room.
My attacks would last from 30 minutes to an hour, and I would begin shivering uncontrollably, hyperventilating, and feeling pressure in my chest. It felt like my body was entirely out of my control, and even though I always know it is a panic attack, there is a certain feeling of dread and horror that comes along with it every time.
It has now been over a year since my last full-fledged panic attack, but that feeling is something that will never leave me.
Panic attacks leave you feeling completely out of control, terrified, and defeated. They strike when you least expect it, and they don't always have a trigger. Panic attacks can come out of absolutely nowhere. I've had them in classes, as I was about to fall asleep at night, and while sitting in my dorm room listening to music... you name it.
Feeling stressed in nerve-wracking, everyday situations is normal- and it is something that everyone deals with. Those stressful feelings, however, are not a panic attack, and shouldn't be labeled as such.
Statements like "I almost had a panic attack because my phone wasn't working", or similar phrases regarding homework, jobs, and minor inconveniences actually end up invalidating those of us who really struggle from panic attacks.
It belittles and overly normalizes something that can be extremely isolating and traumatizing. Panic attacks are serious and needed to be understood and treated as such.
That being said, though, there are also many instances when people don't do this out of ignorance, and rather because they aren't sure whether or not they really are having a panic attack. In this case, it is so important to speak with a healthcare professional and get the answers you need- anxiety attacks can be equally as frightening, and are extremely common. There are plenty of ways to cope with attacks that can mitigate your fears, and you'll also better understand the way your mind works!
Essentially, it is most of all important to understand why you are saying what you're saying, and if you really understand the implications of your words.
Please, be mindful of those of us who are suffering.