Panic Attacks

A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. When you’re having a panic attack, you may sweat a lot, have difficulty breathing and feel like your heart is racing. It may feel as if you’re having a heart attack. Although panic attacks themselves aren't life-threatening, they can be frightening and significantly affect your quality of life.

 

Many individuals have one or two panic attacks in their lifetimes, and the problem goes away, perhaps when a stressful situation ends. But if you have had recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and spent long periods in constant fear of another attack, you may have a condition called panic disorder.

Symptoms

Panic attacks typically begin suddenly, without warning. Symptoms usually peak within 10 minutes after an attack starts. They disappear soon after, leaving you fatigued and worn out. Signs of a panic attack include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Intense feeling of terror
  • Racing heart
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness, light-headedness or faintness
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Feeling of detachment

 

Risk factors

   Age

Panic attacks typically first occur during the teen or early adult years. But people of all ages, including children, can have panic attacks.

 

   Gender

Women are twice as likely as men to develop panic disorder.

 

   Family history

Anxiety disorders, including panic disorders, often run in families.

 

   Mental health issues

People who have anxiety disorders, depression or other mental illness are more prone to panic attacks.

 

   Substance abuse problems

Alcoholism and drug addiction can increase the risk of panic attacks.

 

   Traumatic events

A traumatic event, such as sexual assault or a serious accident can result in panic attacks. Events which cause a lot of stress, such as the death or serious illness of a loved one may also increase the chance of panic attacks.

 

Treatment

Psychotherapy, medications or a combination are very effective at stopping panic attacks.

 

   Psychotherapy

    • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy, or talk therapy where you discuss your thoughts and emotions with your therapist.

 

   Medications

    1. Antidepressants
      • Certain antidepressant medications can make panic attacks less frequent or less severe. Some examples are serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) or tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).
    2. Anti-anxiety medications
      • Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medication to treat and prevent panic attacks.

 

Self-help tips

   Learn about panic and anxiety

By knowing more about panic attacks, it can help put you on the path to relieving your distress.

 

   Avoid smoking, alcohol, and caffeine.

These can all provoke panic attacks in people who are susceptible.

 

   Learn how to control your breathing.

Hyperventilation brings on many sensations (such as light-headedness and tightness of the chest) that occur during a panic attack. Deep breathing can help relieve these symptoms of panic. By learning to control your breathing, you can calm yourself down when you begin to feel anxious.

 

   Practice relaxation techniques.

Activities such as yoga, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation strengthen the body’s relaxation response. They also increase feelings of joy and equanimity.

 

   Connect face-to-face with family and friends.

Symptoms of anxiety can become worse when you feel isolated, so reach out to people who care about you on a regular basis.

 

   Exercise regularly.

Exercise is a natural anxiety reliever. Rhythmic aerobic exercise that requires moving both your arms and legs, like walking, running, swimming, or dancing, can be especially effective.

 

   Get enough sleep.

Insufficient or poor quality of sleep can make anxiety worse.

 

Watch the video attached to learn more!

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