All You Need To Know About Panic Attacks
Panic disorders or anxiety disorders are mental illnesses that cause panic attacks. Panic attacks result from sudden and intense fear when there is no apparent danger. Did you ever think how common panic attacks are?
Every year, up to 11 percent of Americans experience a panic attack. About 2 percent to 3 percent of them develop a panic disorder. Compared to men, women are twice as prone to develop a panic disorder. Sometimes it may start when a person is under tremendous stress.
Most people get better with proper treatment. Therapy can show you how to understand and change your thought process before they cause panic. Medicines can also help. This blog discusses the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and techniques to prevent panic attacks.
What is a panic attack?
A panic attack is a sudden occurrence of intense anxiety or fear and physical symptoms. These attacks can be based on a perceived threat rather than an imminent danger. You might be having a panic attack when you have overwhelming and sudden terror without an apparent cause.
There can also be physical symptoms, such as sweating, breathing difficulties, and a racing heart. A panic attack can also be described as an abrupt surge of intense discomfort or extreme fear that reaches a peak in a few minutes.
A panic attack causes brief and sudden anxiety and physical reactions to non-threatening or ordinary situations. When you have a panic attack, you usually feel like your heart is racing, sweat a lot, and have difficulty breathing. It can also feel as if you have a heart attack.
Most people experience panic attacks once or twice in their lives. Panic disorder can be defined by a minimum of one month of persistent fear about panic attacks reoccurring. Anyone can have a panic attack. The factors that play a role are:
- Age - Panic attacks generally first occur in the teen or early adult years. But people of all ages, including children, may experience panic attacks.
- Gender - Females are almost twice as likely to develop a panic disorder than males.
What are the symptoms and signs of a panic attack?
You may look for these signs when you suspect you have a panic attack -
- Chest pain or a racing heart,
- Smothering or a choking sensation,
- Fear of losing control and sweating,
- An intense feeling of terror that may lead to shaking or trembling,
- Feeling like you are going to die, and
- Tingling or numbness in fingers or toes.
Panic attacks generally occur suddenly and without warning. There isn't a way to stop a panic attack after it has started. The symptoms usually peak within 8 to 10 mins after a panic attack starts. These symptoms disappear soon after. Panic attacks can happen anywhere, anytime, and without any warning.
You may live in constant fear of having another attack and avoid going to places you had an episode earlier. For some people, fear may take over their lives, and they can not leave their homes. The panic disorder might develop when you overthink another panic attack and change behavioral patterns to avoid an attack.
What are the causes of a panic attack?
If you often experience panic attacks and want to know the reason behind them, you may read this blog further to learn the most persistent causes. The nervous system and brain play vital roles in handling and perceiving anxiety and fear. Your risk of experiencing a panic attack increases if you have the following:
- Mental health issues - People with depression, anxiety disorders, or other mental conditions are more likely to have panic attacks.
- Family history - Panic disorders, including anxiety disorders, usually run in families.
- Substance abuse problems - Drug addiction and alcoholism can raise the risk of a panic attack.
Precautions for a panic attack.
Your mental health care provider can help you identify triggers that can lead to a panic attack. During psychotherapy, you can learn strategies to manage triggering events and avoid panic attacks. You may also take these actions to lower your chances of having a panic attack -
- Exercise regularly.
- Cut back on caffeine.
- Manage stress.
- Eat a healthy diet.
How are panic attacks diagnosed?
Severe health problems such as respiratory, heart, and thyroid disease lead to symptoms similar to panic attacks. The doctor will run tests to rule out possible physical causes. If there is no physical cause, your doctor might diagnose depending on your risk factors and symptoms.
Medical healthcare providers can analyze panic attacks. Your doctor can also analyze a panic disorder if you have repeated panic attacks and you -
- are persistently tensed about having more panic attacks or their after-effects;
- You are obsessed about losing control during a panic attack; and
- Change your behavioral patterns to avoid situations that can trigger a panic attack.
How are panic attacks managed or treated?
The following are a few methods that can help you treat your panic attacks or panic disorder, and hopefully, you will feel better. Medications, psychotherapy, or a combination are beneficial for managing panic attacks. How long you will need treatment will depend on the severity of your problem and also on how you respond to the treatment.
- Psychotherapy - Cognitive-behavioral therapy ( i.e., CBT ) is a type of psychotherapy, or it can also be called talk therapy. You discuss your feelings, thoughts, and emotions with a mental healthcare expert, such as a psychologist or a licensed counselor. This specialist will help you identify panic attack triggers so that you can change your thinking, reactions, and behaviors accordingly. As you start to respond to the stimuli differently, the panic attacks reduce, and they eventually stop.
- Anti-anxiety medications - Benzodiazepine drugs are the most commonly prescribed medicines to prevent and treat panic attacks. They help with panic but also have risks of dependence or addiction. These anti-anxiety drugs include lorazepam ( Ativan ), Diazepam ( Valium ), and alprazolam ( Xanax ).
- Antidepressant drugs - Some antidepressant medicines can make panic attacks less severe or less frequent. Mental health care providers can prescribe SSRIs ( serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors ), SNRIs ( serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors ), or TCAs ( tricyclic antidepressants ). SSRIs include paroxetine (Paxil ) and fluoxetine ( Prozac ). SNRIs include venlafaxine ( Effexor ) and duloxetine ( Cymbalta ). TCAs include doxepin ( Sinequan ) and amitriptyline ( Elavil ).
Panic Attacks are unreasonable and sudden feelings of fear and anxiety. However, to control panic attacks and disorders, you may look for home remedies for panic attacks, which can include meditation and having a healthy diet. This may help calm you down and ease anxiety. You can also try the treatment options mentioned in this article to manage your panic attacks.
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