Panic Attack: A sudden feeling of acute and disabling anxiety
Panic attacks/panic disorder is a serious type of anxiety that can greatly interfere with one’s daily functioning. The physical symptoms of panic attacks are so severe that it’s common for sufferers to believe they’re having a heart attack or dying.
While some people experience panic attacks once in a while, others may get them multiple times a day. (Frequent attacks usually indicate full-fledged panic disorder). Regardless of the frequency, however, panic attacks can be so distressing that many individuals live in constant fear that another one will strike at any moment.
What are the symptoms of a Panic Attack?
Symptoms of panic attacks include:
tightness in the chest
trembling and shaking
numbness in the body
Panic attacks can sneak up on you, or they may be triggered by something specific.They typically last between 5 to 10 minutes, though this can vary. Some symptoms can last for hours after the peak of the attack, and normal psychological functioning can be impaired for even longer.
What Causes Panic Attacks?
Some people are genetically predisposed to panic attacks, but they can also arise from other causes — thus, the current thinking is that panic attacks are caused by both biological and environmental factors. Other anxiety disorders, such as phobias, can trigger panic attacks, as can a range of other illnesses. They are more common in women than men, and tend to begin in early adulthood, although they can actually start at any age.
How is a Panic Attack Diagnosed?
Panic disorder can be diagnosed by your doctor or a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist. Once physical illnesses are ruled out as causes of your symptoms, the doctor or therapist will determine if you meet the criteria for panic disorder.
How are Panic Attacks Treated?
Working with a therapist is the primary method of treatment panic disorder. A therapist who specializes in panic disorders will be best equipped to help you feel safe and understood.
A healthy lifestyle is also crucial for managing your panic attacks. Prescription medication may be helpful, but natural and herbal supplements are also available to help relieve symptoms with a decreased risk of side effects. Ultimately, committing to a healthy lifestyle and working hard in therapy is the best way to treat panic disorders.
Make an appointment with a BWCS Therapist, either at one of our locations or if you prefer, online from the security of your own home: