For the millions of American adults who suffer from anxiety and panic disorders, panic attacks may be one of the most prevalent and persistent symptoms. And while the experience of a panic attack is different for each individual, there is one universal truth for all who suffer from them: They're terrifying.
Demand from patients seeking help for their mental illnesses has led to underground use in a way that parallels black markets in the AIDS pandemic. This underground use has been most perilous for people of color, who face greater stigma and legal risks due to the War on Drugs.
They're more common than you think – six readers share their experiences and coping strategies. *Warning: This piece includes graphic descriptions of what it’s like to experience a panic attack, which may be triggering for some readers*