What are panic attacks?
Panic attacks are tendencies wherein people feel sudden overwhelming anxiety and fear. The extreme feeling of anxiety causes the heart to pound fast. Breathing can be hard. A person may feel like s/he is going crazy or dying. If untreated, people with the panic attack are more likely to develop a panic disorder. Fortunately, panic attacks are treatable. With proper treatment, a person can live a normal life again.
Symptoms of panic attacks
Panic attacks almost always happen when you are in public places (although it can happen anywhere). You may experience panic attacks while walking on the street, crossing the bridge, shopping in the mall, driving a car, and while watching TV.
Because of the fear of having attacks, people with this problem may hesitate to go to public places. A person may become afraid being in a crowd a condition known as Agoraphobia.
But how do you know that you have a panic attack?
People who suffer from this condition may experience the following:
- Palpitations, pounding heart
3. Trembling or shaking
4. Shortness of breath or choking
5. Feeling of choking
6. Chest pain or discomfort
7. Nausea or abdominal distress
8. Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint
9. Derealization or depersonalization
10. Fear of losing control or going crazy
11. Fear of dying
12. Chills or hot flushes
13. Paresthesia (tingling, pricking, or burning sensation on the skin)
Causes of panic attacks
Although there are no specific causes of panic attacks, this condition runs in a family. Meaning, it is biological. People whose parents have the history of this condition will more likely to develop a panic attack. Most of the time, panic attacks can be triggered by stressful events such as accident, the death of a loved one, etc.
Panic attacks can also be caused by several medical conditions.
- “Cardiac problem”
- “Overactivity of the thyroid gland”
- “Low blood sugar”
- “Stimulant use (amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine)”
- “Medication withdrawal”
Treatment of panic attacks
Since this condition is generally in the thought process, cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective treatment. The purpose of this therapy is to reevaluate the negative thinking process of a person. Why? Because most incidents are triggered by irrational fear. A person with this condition, for instance, may fear of having a heart attack without having such medical condition. Realizing that the fear is not real can lessen the incident.
Panic attack symptoms can be avoided by knowing that the condition is due to negative imaginings. And by recognizing that vices can trigger such condition. Cigarette smoking, alcohol, and too much caffeine intake, for example, can cause this condition. Thus, avoiding these substances can help you avoid the symptoms. While regular exercise, enough sleep, and social interactions are the best practices to avoid the risk.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.