Have you ever faced a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear? It might be possible you may have suffered from a panic attack. For some people, a panic attack may be a one-time occurrence, but many others experience repeated episodes of panic attack. Recurrent panic attacks are mostly triggered by a specific situation, such as crossing a bridge or speaking in public especially if that situation has caused a panic attack in the individual before. In this article we will go through the causes, symptoms, and coping mechanism of panic attacks.
What Is Panic Attack?
A panic attack is an extreme surge of fear which is usually described by its suddenness and devastating, restraining intensity. Your heart pounds, you can not breath properly, and you may feel like you are dying or going crazy.
Causes A Panic Attack
Panic attacks usually strike out of the blue without any warning and in some cases with no clear trigger. Panic attacks may even occur when you are relaxed or asleep. Usually, the panic-inducing situation is one in which you feel endangered and unable to escape thus triggering your body’s fight-or-flight response. You may face one or more panic attacks otherwise be perfectly happy and healthy. But sometimes your panic attacks may occur as part of another disorder, such as panic disorder, social phobia, or depression. Whatever is the cause, panic attacks can be treated easily. There are various strategies you can use to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of panic and regain your confidence by taking back the control of your life.
Signs and Symptoms of Panic Attack
The signs and symptoms of a panic attack usually develop abruptly and reach their peak in a matter of 10 minutes. In very minor cases, these panic attacks have lasted more than an hour. These attacks usually end within a time of 20 to 30 minutes. The main concern of a panic attack is that it can happen anywhere and at any time. You may have one while you are in a store shopping, walking down the street, driving in your car, or simply sitting on the couch at home. Panic attack symptoms might include shortness of breath or hyperventilation, chest pain or discomfort, heart palpitations or racing heart, trembling, or shaking, choking feeling, nausea or upset stomach, feeling faint, sweating, numbness, light-headed, or tingling sensations, hot or cold flashes, fear of vanishing, losing control, or going foolish. Most of the symptoms of a panic attack are usually physical but many times these symptoms are so intense that you might think you are having a heart attack. In fact, many individuals suffering from panic attacks makes repeated trips to their doctor or the emergency room to get treatment for what they believe is a life-threatening medical condition. While it is quite necessary to rule out possible medical causes of symptoms such as pain in the chest, increased heart rate, or difficulty in breathing, it is sometimes a panic attack which is overlooked as a potential cause. Sometimes, Panic attacks can also occur due to some medical conditions and other physical causes. If you are having symptoms of a panic attack, it is extremely important to see a doctor to rule out the possibilities of mitral valve prolapse, hyperthyroidism, hypoglycemia and stimulant use of amphetamines, cocaine, or caffeine.
Self-help Techniques to Prevent Panic Attack?
No matter how powerless or out of control you may feel regarding your panic attacks, it is important to know that there are numerous things you can do to help yourself. Self-help methods can make up a big change and helps you to overcome the panic. For instance, learn about panic and anxiety. Simply knowing more about panic can go a long way towards relieving your anxiety and distress. You will learn that the sensations and feelings you have when you are having a panic attack are quite normal and that you are not turning crazy. Try avoiding smoking, alcohol, and caffeine. These all can provoke panic attacks in individuals who are susceptible. You should also be careful with medications that contain stimulants, such as diet pills and non-drowsy cold medications. During a panic attack, people suffer from hyperventilation which brings on many sensations such as lightheadedness and tightness of the chest. Deep breathing can help in relieving the symptoms of panic.
By learning to control your breathing, you can calm yourself down when you start feeling anxious and if you are able to control your breathing, you are less likely to create the sensations that you fear. You can also practice relaxation techniques. When activities such as yoga, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation are practiced regularly then your body’s relaxation response gets strengthen which is opposite of the stress response involved in anxiety and panic. These relaxation practices not only help in promoting relaxation, but they also help in increasing feelings of joy and equanimity. Try connecting face-to-face with family members and friends. Symptoms of anxiety can worsen when you feel isolated, so talk to people who care about you on a regular basis. If you feel that you do not have anyone close to you then explore ways to meet new people and build supportive friendships. The most important thing is to get enough restful sleep. Insufficient and poor-quality sleep can turn your anxiety worse, so try to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
Treatment of Panic Attacks
The most effective form of professional treatment for handling panic attacks is therapy. Even a short course of treatment can help in resolving the anxiety. There are various types of therapy available to help an individual manage his or her panic attack. The most common are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy and virtual reality exposure therapy. Medications can also be used to temporarily control or reduce few symptoms of panic disorder. However, these meditations do not treat or resolve the problem. Medications can only be useful in severe cases, but it should not be the only treatment pursued as they can be addictive. Medication is most effective when it is combined with other types of treatments such as therapy and lifestyle changes. The most common medications used are antidepressants and benzodiazepines. Hence, if you are suffering from a panic attack then try seeking help of your loved ones. Do not isolate yourself. Once the attack is over, reassure and encourage yourself and seek help to handle your anxiety by consulting a doctor or following self-help treatment.