What is Panic Attack?
Panic attack is a condition of extreme fear or a feeling of discomfort that might happen without any real danger or cause. Panic attacks can happen once in a lifetime or can occur repeatedly. They can be very terrifying and you might feel like you’re losing your control when they occur.
Panic attacks are usually fleeting, reaching their peak point in about 10 minutes or even less, then the symptoms start to reduce. They are rarely experienced for more than an hour (in severe cases), most panic attacks last for 20 to 30 minutes. Whereas, some symptoms might be experienced for a longer time.
They are more common in females.
What is Panic Disorder?
Panic attacks that occur once or twice in your life, in a stressful situation or as a reaction of phobia, are considered to be normal. But those that occur repeatedly and unexpectedly, no matter if you’re in a public place or sleeping, shows that you have a panic disorder.
People suffering from panic disorders may stay worried and fearful as they cannot predict when the next attack might occur.
What symptoms will help you notice panic attacks?
Symptoms of panic disorder can occur at any age, but they mostly show up during teenage or young adulthood. Symptoms differ from person to person. If you get panic attacks or you are suffering from panic disorder, you might experience the following symptoms:
- Increased heart rate
- Fear of dying
- Trembling or shaking
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
- Going crazy
- Hot flashes
- Sensation of tingling or numbness
- Choking feeling
- Breathing difficulties
Why do panic attacks occur?
You suffer from unexpected panic attacks without obvious reasons, whereas, you experience expected panic attacks because of these reasons:
- Chronic pain or illness
- Stressful job
- Discontinuing drugs or alcohol
What things may lead you to ‘panic attacks’?
If you are having anxiety problems you are at a higher risk of experiencing panic attacks. Possibilities of having panic attacks are as follows:
- If you have experienced traumatic or stressful situations (such as sexual abuse or death of a loved one)
- Having continuous stress and worries in your life
- Drugs or alcohol can make you suffer from panic attacks
- If you are suffering from other mental disorders or chronic or life-threatening illness
- If you have an anxious personality
What will doctors do to diagnose panic attacks?
Doctors might conduct following tests if you are suffering from Panic disorder:
- Physical exam
- Blood test
- Heart test
- Psychological questionnaire
What should you do to overcome your Panic Attacks?
You can use following treatments to overcome your panic attacks:
- Home practices
Medicines that treat panic disorders include a class of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRIs), an antidepressant. Your health professional might prescribe:
Other medications include:
- Serotonine-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Antiseizure drugs
- Benzodiazepines including Diazepam or Clonazepam
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), are rarely used because of some serious side effects.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
It is used to change the way of thinking of a person to cope with panic attacks.
In this therapy doctors actually make you experience the source of panic attacks to ensure you that nothing really disastrous happens in a particular situation.
If you experience increased heart rate or breathing, start inhaling for four minutes, hold it for a second and exhale from your mouth.
Have More Knowledge of Panic Attacks:
Read and learn more about the symptoms of panic attack, it’ll help you in reducing anxiety and distress and ensures you that the feelings and sensations you are experiencing are totally normal and you aren’t going crazy or dying.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol:
If you are taking drugs and alcohol you are at a higher risk of having panic attacks. Try withdrawing smoking, drugs, alcohol and caffeine.
Practice relaxation techniques such as Yoga, Meditation etc, which will help you in reducing stress and increase joy.
Regular 30 minutes exercise is very effective in reducing anxiety. Do you?
Take Proper Sleep:
Do you take a proper sleep? Taking a proper sleep is very important in our life. You must sleep properly for 7-9 hours at night in order to reduce anxiety.
Change your Lifestyle:
- Cut off the sources that make you anxious or stressed
- Avoid negative thoughts
- Have a balanced diet
How would you know if it’s panic attack or anxiety?
Symptoms of panic attack and anxiety are almost the same but the major difference you can notice between both are; in panic attacks you experience a fear of dying or going crazy, whereas, this doesn’t happen in anxiety.
Before you Leave!
There is no shame in admitting if you are suffering from panic attacks because you are not alone. And fortunately it has a treatment. By taking proper treatments you can overcome these attacks and live your life with no fear, disturbance and embarrassment. You can seek advice and support from various resources available online and in the form of support groups.
A Psychology student from Jinnah University. She brings her knowledge of Human Psychology and Mental Health issues to help people cope-up with their psychological problems. She addresses important topics on mental health, child upbringing, and a healthy lifestyle with her articles.