Panic Attacks : All You Need To Know

May 2017

What Is Panic Attack?
A panic attack is an unexpected rush of enormous anxiety and fear. Your heart beats faster, harder and you can’t breathe. You may even feel like you’re dying.
Panic Attacks : All You Need To Know

Left unmanaged, panic attacks can lead to panic disorder and other problems. They may even cause you to withdraw from normal activities such as work. But panic attacks can be cured and the sooner you seek help, the better. With treatment, you can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of panic and regain control of your life.

Symptoms Of Panic Attacks
  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate 
  •  Sweating 
  • Trembling or shaking 
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering 
  • Feelings of choking 
  • Chest pain or discomfort 
  • Nausea or abdominal distress 
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint 
  • Chills or heat sensations 
  • Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations) 
  • Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself) 
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy” 
  • Fear of dying 

Some of these symptoms will most likely be present in a panic attack. The attacks can be so disabling that the person is unable to express to others what is happening to them.

Causes Of Panic Attacks

Although the exact causes of panic attacks and panic disorder are unclear, the tendency to have panic attacks is genetic and runs in families.

There also appears to be a connection with major life transitions such as graduating from college and entering the workplace, getting married, and having a baby.

Severe stress, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or job loss can also trigger a panic attack.

Panic attacks can also be caused by medical conditions and other physical causes. If you’re suffering from symptoms of panic, it’s important to see a doctor to rule out the following possibilities:

  • Mitral valve prolapse, a minor cardiac problem that occurs when one of the heart’s valves doesn't close correctly.
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland).
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
  • Stimulant use (amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine).
  • Medication withdrawal.

Management Of Panic Attacks
1. Psychotherapy:

Cognitive behavioral therapy is widely accepted as an effective form of psychotherapy for panic attacks. This form of therapy seeks to help those with panic disorder identify and decrease the self-defeating thoughts and behaviors that reinforce panic symptoms.

Panic-foused psychodynamic psychotherapy uses behavioural techniques that are often used to decrease anxiety include relaxation and gradually increasing the panic sufferer's exposure to situations that may have previously caused anxiety. Helping the anxiety sufferer understand the emotional issues that may have contributed to developing panic symptoms and has also been found to be effective.

2. Medications

Medication can be used to temporarily control or reduce some of the symptoms of panic disorder. However, it doesn't treat or resolve the problem. Medication can be useful in severe cases, but it should not be the only treatment pursued. Medication is most effective when combined with other treatments, such as therapy and lifestyle changes, that address the underlying causes of panic disorder.

The medications used for panic attacks and panic disorder include:

Antidepressants. It takes several weeks before they begin to work, so you have to take them continuously, not just during a panic attack.

Benzodiazepines. These are anti-anxiety drugs that act very quickly (usually within 30 minutes to an hour). Taking them during a panic attack provides rapid relief of symptoms. However, benzodiazepines are highly addictive and have serious withdrawal symptoms, so they should be used with caution.

3. Self Help Tips

* Avoid smoking, alcohol, and caffeine. These can all provoke panic attacks in people who are susceptible. As a result, it’s wise to avoid alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, and other caffeinated beverages. If you need help to kick the cigarette habit, see How to Quit Smoking. Also be careful with medications that contain stimulants, such as diet pills and non-drowsy cold medications.

* Hyperventilation brings on many sensations (such as lightheadedness and tightness of the chest) that occur during a panic attack.Deep breathing, on the other hand, can relieve the symptoms of panic.

Slow down your breathing. This may best be done by blowing out every breath through pursed lips as if blowing out a candle. Also, place your hands on your stomach to feel the rapidity of your breathing. This may allow you to further control your symptoms

By learning to control your breathing, you develop a coping skill that you can use to calm yourself down when you begin to feel anxious. If you know how to control your breathing, you are also less likely to create the very sensations that you are afraid of.

* Exercise regularly. Exercise is a natural anxiety reliever so try to get moving for at least 30 minutes on most days (three 10-minute sessions is just as good). Rhythmic aerobic exercise that requires moving both your arms and legs—like walking, running, swimming, or dancing—can be especially effective.

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Panic Attacks : All You Need To Know Panic Attacks : All You Need To Know Reviewed by Aremu Segun on May 18, 2017 Rating: 5

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