Prince Harry explains how a panic attack feels

Prince Harry explains how a panic attack feels

The Royal Family is not exempt from the same health conditions many Americans face. In a recent interview with Forces TV, Prince Harry opens up about dealing with panic attacks and being in the spotlight.

“In my case, every single time I was in any room with loads of people, which is quite often, I was just pouring with sweat, my heart beating – boom, boom, boom, boom, boom –literally, just like a washing machine,” he says.

While his fight-or-flight response would kick in, he couldn’t act on it. “I was like, Oh my God, get me out of here now. Oh, hang on, I can’t get out of here, I have to just hide it,” he explains.

For anyone who has experienced a panic attack, this all sounds too familiar. Your heart is racing, you’re sweating and feeling weak in the knees as you’re overcome by a sense of fear and helplessness. If you can relate to Prince Harry’s testimonial, you are not alone.

In the U.S., more than 3 million Americans will experience panic attacks at some point in their lives, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI).

“Everyone experiences stress and anxiety from time to time. But what sets panic attacks apart from daily stress is the debilitating factors that are associated with the episode,” says Dr. Maleeha Ahsan, psychiatrist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill.

A panic attack begins suddenly and peaks within 10 to 20 minutes. During the attack, the individual is overcome with fear, helplessness and may experience heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, chest pain, nausea, lightheadedness and a feeling of detachment from themselves. Some of these symptoms can linger for an hour or more following the attack.

Dr. Ahsan offers the following tips to better control and even ease the panic attack symptoms:

  • Breathe calmly: Take control of your breathing by taking deep breaths from the belly.
  • Relax your muscles: Focus on different parts of your body from your neck, shoulders, back and legs. Tense each muscle group and then relax them while continuing to breathe deeply.
  • Stop the negative thinking and practice coping statements: Remind yourself that you are not in danger and that everything is fine.

Dr. Ahsan recommends that people who experience panic attacks and anxiety on a regular basis talk to their doctor.

“Fortunately, panic disorder can be successfully treated with medication and cognitive-behavior therapy. I work with patients to identify their triggers and provide techniques that they can use to reduce and prevent future attacks,” she says.

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  1. If Prince Harry *can* hide it, I’m not sure it’s really a panic attack. That’s the thing about panic – it’s pretty immune to situational necessities. It’s nearly impossible to control once it kicks in. Sweating, rapid heart beat and feelings of anxiety are pretty normal in high-pressure social situations and don’t necessarily constitute panic attacks.

    • He did lose a mother at a very young age which has a tremendous effect on a young child. I do not find it due to public speaking.

  2. I can absolutely relate to this. Panic attacks are completely subjective- no one person may react the same way, but Price Harry has given us some examples of common symptoms and thought processes that take place during a panic attack. My fiancé has these attacks from time to time, usually in a large group of people (last time it happened he was volunteering at a convention center event). He is able to “act normal” in situations where these attacks set in, yet inside his head is clouded with racing thoughts, his heart rate becomes elevated, and he says he feels “stiff.” Sometimes he leaves due to the stress of the attack. I do appreciate anybody, prince or no prince, spreading light on this issue and helping people relate to it and think, I am not alone and there is help available. Thank you

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.