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12 Quotes That Perfectly Sum Up the Frustrating Misuse of ‘Panic Attack’

Anyone who has panic disorder knows how frustrating it can be to hear people casually drop the term “panic attack.” It diminishes the seriousness of the anxiety disorder and makes it even more difficult for people who actually suffer from panic attacks to explain their medical condition when they have the courage to open up about their experience.

So when Reddit user banjophony expressed her frustration about the misuse of the word “panic attack,” people responded in support.

Here are 12 Reddit users who perfectly summed up their frustrations with the overuse and misuse of the term “panic attack.”

1. “They don’t know better. I usually just smile and let it slide. Maybe someday they’ll get it, though for their sake, I usually hope not.”

2. “I get really frustrated at how little understood panic disorder really is.”

3. “The worst panic attack I ever had cannot be described in words. I can only say I actually thought I was dying. The panic became so physical, I was violently throwing up. Absolutely 100 percent completely different from my general anxiety. The two can’t be compared! People who’ve never had one will never understand. It’s similar to people calling themselves OCD when they’re not. Annoying.”

4. “It’s similar to when people who are a bit peckish say, “Oh my God, I’m staaaaarving.” God bless ’em that they never feel the truth behind those terms.”

5. “I’ve been dealing with horrible anxiety all my life. The older I’ve been getting the worse it has gotten, over things I shouldn’t be freaking out about. Like it is really bad, my chest starts to hurt and it’s hard to breath and I feel like my vision is fading. I remember I had an anxiety attack in high school about not turning in an essay, and my teachers and the nurse were ready to call 9-1-1 because I was having the same exact symptoms as a heart attack.

6. “It’s disrespectful, in my opinion, when people talk about panic attacks as if they’re just a slight hiccup.”

7. “People overuse that phrase and ‘phobia’ so much. Because of this, people don’t understand what I mean when I say when I have a phobia. I can’t just say I have a phobia. I can’t then just explain I get panic attacks. I have to explain what a panic attack is to people and then they get it.

8. “People don’t know what the terms mean and they throw them around all the time. It gives the people with a diagnosis less credibility.”

9. “I hate every time people use clinical terms in casual settings to describe something kinda-sorta-similar. That movie didn’t make you ‘depressed,’ it made you feel sad. Same goes for ‘panic attack.’ (aka ‘briefly nervous’) ‘in shock,’ (aka ‘startled’) and a million other things. It detracts from the problems faced by people with actual, you know, problems.”

10. “It further stigmatizes the individuals seeking help for mental illness because people think that ‘Oh, I’ve been depressed/anxious before ,so you can get over it easily.’ Their use of hyperbole really undermines the clinical diagnosis and the individuals seeking treatment for an actual illness.”

11. “The way we use the term panic attack really left me to be blind-sided by my first real waves of panic attacks at the age of 33. If I would have known what it was, I probably wouldn’t have thought I was dying, which might have prevented the panic cycles that gave me one of the worst days of my life.”

12. “Just throwing it out there: You probably know people who get panic attacks but don’t talk about them, so you wouldn’t know.”