Panic attack symptoms are one of the symptoms of anxiety, which may be triggered by different events.
When a person experiences a sudden episode of strong fear, it is called a panic attack. It is usually triggered by events involving severe physical reactions or may be for no obvious reason. Panic attacks are very dangerous and frightening. Individuals experiencing panic attacks may feel like they are dying, having a heart attack, or losing their minds. The attack may also be accompanied by physical symptoms such as palpitations and rapid breathing.
In a lifetime, a person may only experience one or two panic attacks. However, in some cases, an individual may have several panic attacks or may have experience constant fear for longer periods of time of having another attack. This case is known as chronic panic disorder.
Children with panic attacks symptoms may result to separation from parents, avoiding school, and declining grades. In both children and teens, suicidal ideation, depression, and substance abuse may occur. It may affect the quality of life of the affected individual; however, current treatment modalities are known to be very effective.
Panic Attack Symptoms
Common panic attack symptoms are hot flashes, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, and palpitations. When these symptoms occur, it is important to seek medical attention for proper treatment, because the disorder may also resemble life-threatening conditions. Other symptoms of panic attacks include: chest pain, headache, abdominal cramping, faintness, and trouble swallowing.
Panic attacks usually begin without warning and suddenly. It may attack anywhere and at any time, it may occur at a business meeting, when asleep, at the mall, at school, or while driving. Symptoms usually peaks at the 10th minute of the attack and may last up to half an hour. Individuals may fell worn out or fatigued after an attack.
A person with this disorder may develop intense fear of having another attack. An individual that had four or more attacks and have constant fear of having another attack may have a condition known as panic disorder. Panic disorder is a kind of chronic anxiety disorder. Individuals with a panic disorder may tend to avoid events or situations that may cause the attack. An example would be people that are reluctant to leave the comfort of their own home because of the fear of having a panic attack.
It is essential to seek medical attention when panic attack symptoms occur. It is difficult to manage the disorder without help, and it may get worse if not treated. Seeking the help of a medical professional is also important because panic attacks may mimic other serious conditions such as a heart attack.
Panic Attack Causes and Risk Factors
The causes of panic attack symptoms are not yet known. However, certain factors may play a role in the development of the disease. This includes: alterations in brain function, stress, and genetics. Certain studies have shown that the development of panic attacks is associated with the fight-or-flight response of the body. An example would be if a murderer came chasing you, this would cause the body to react; the body prepares itself by speeding up breathing as well as the heart rate. But the exact cause of panic attacks when there is absence of danger is unknown.
The disorder usually occurs during early adulthood or late adolescence. Furthermore, women are more likely to develop the disease compared to men. Other risk factors of the disorder include: a death of a loved one, big changes in life, a history of sexual or childhood physical abuse, and experiencing traumatic events such as an accident.
Panic Attack Management
The treatment of panic attacks and disorder involves different modalities. This includes: psychotherapy, medications, and certain lifestyle changes. The goal treatment is for the patient to resume everyday life through eliminating the symptoms. First and foremost, it is important to adhere to the treatment plan. This enables fast and effective treatment.
Individuals experiencing panic attacks are recommended to join a support group with the same disorder; having a support group aids in treating the disorder by learning about experiences of other patients. The patient should also avoid using illegal drugs, alcohol, caffeine, or any other substances that triggers the attacks. It is also important to learn about relaxation techniques as well as stress management such as yoga and meditation. Sufficient sleep is also enough.
Furthermore, the main treatment for panic attack symptoms involves the psychotherapy and medications. The physician may use only one or both treatment methods. Psychotherapy otherwise known as talk therapy or counseling aids the patient in understanding the disorder as well as help them cope with it. In most cases, a type of psychotherapy known as cognitive behavioral therapy is used. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing the patient’s thinking patterns with regards to triggering factors or fears. It helps the patient on how to react in certain situations that causes fear or attacks. Medications for panic attacks may include mild sedatives as well as anti-depressants.
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