A panic attack is an attack of severe anxiety which occurs suddenly and subsides just as suddenly. The condition is often accompanied by pronounced somatic symptoms. These are palpitations, dizziness, a feeling of weakness or numbness in the extremities, etc.
Fast facts about anxiety and panic
According to statistics, panic attacks periodically occur in one person out of 20. Young people (age 20-30 years) face seizures more often than the elderly, and women more often than men. Fortunately, custom healthcare software has been developed for people prone to panic attacks. It contains an interactive section with tips and techniques to turn to in the event of a panic attack. It also includes a large educational section where you can learn about the symptoms of a panic attack and how to deal with anxiety in everyday life.
The attacks cause so much fear that the patient begins to live in anticipation of a new wave of panic. If the conditions are repeated periodically, they can cause the development of severe neurosis and depression, completely subjugating a person’s life. Timely help from specialists makes it possible to reduce the frequency of their occurrence. As well as to learn self-help skills during a panic.
Causes of attacks
The reasons for the development of panic attacks are unknown. Predisposing factors have been proven to be:
- hereditary predisposition;
- psycho-emotional trauma suffered in childhood and adolescence;
- lack of body protective hormones, in particular, serotonin;
- prolonged or very severe stress;
- physical trauma and surgical interventions;
- lack of sleep;
- excessive physical exertion;
- alcohol abuse, etc.
Psychologists and psychoanalysts also analyze the causes of panic attacks. Among the possible risk factors they particularly single out:
- hypersensitivity to internal sensations, which leads to a significant increase in even minimal discomfort;
- excessive demanding of oneself and perfectionism;
- unresolved inner conflict.
Most likely, the body is affected by several pathological factors at once. Together they cause an illogically strong reaction to external or internal stimuli.
Recognize the symptoms
Unlike many other conditions, the symptoms of a panic attack are sudden and occur against a background of complete well-being.
The person appears:
- pronounced anxiety, unreasonable fear of death, an unexplained feeling of intense danger;
- a rapid heartbeat and breathing;
- a sensation of difficulty in breathing or choking pronounced shortness of breath;
- persistent feeling of a lump in the throat;
- discomfort, tightness, or pain in the chest (often on the left side);
- abdominal pain, nausea; in severe cases, vomiting or diarrhea may occur;
- trembling in the hands and/or feet;
- feeling of numbness or tingling in the extremities;
- sweating, hot flashes to the face and body;
- blurred vision, flickering of flickers in front of the eyes.
Most patients note a strong sense of unreality of what is happening. They fear going insane or losing control of their behavior.
Unlike other diseases and conditions accompanied by similar symptoms, the signs of a panic attack disappear within 10-30 minutes and leave no trace. Depending on the condition of the person’s nervous system, associated diseases, and external factors, panic attacks may recur with varying frequency, from once every 1-2 months to several times a day.
As a rule, the first panic attack is the most severe and strongest. It leaves behind a persistent fear of recurrence of what has happened, which is also a provoking factor. A pathological vicious circle develops that is almost impossible to break without the aid of specialists.
What are the dangers of panic attacks?
A panic attack itself is not dangerous for the body, especially if the person does not suffer from any chronic diseases. Nevertheless, during the attack, he loses touch with reality and may behave inadequately. Dizziness and loss of spatial orientation lead to falls and injuries, panic driving becomes the cause of an accident.
Frequent recurrence of attacks disrupts a person’s daily life. This leads to mental disorders, especially if the person does not receive support from others. Depression, apathy, feelings of inferiority often accompany people suffering from panic attacks.
How to behave during an attack to reduce its intensity
Often, despite therapy, a panic attack still occurs. In this case, the following tactics are recommended:
- Move away from pedestrians and the road if the seizure occurs in a public place.
- Take emergency medication if prescribed by a doctor.
- Shift attention from the internal sensations to the surrounding objects: try to name what is in front of your eyes, identify the main characteristics of the objects in question (color, material, etc.).
- Concentrate on sounds and physical sensations, mentally list them.
- Control breathing: it should be even, slow, and deep.
- Cope with hyperventilation and over-oxygenation by breathing into a bag or balloon.
- Take turns relaxing tense muscles.
If a panic attack occurs in a loved one, it is important to keep them safe and, if possible, take them to a quiet, peaceful place. The attack will pass on its own within 10-30 minutes.
Panic attacks will not cause you to die, but they will significantly distort your existence. The most effective method of combating them is early, timely treatment. You should not postpone it, trying to overcome the disease on your own. Such attempts will only aggravate the process, transforming it into a deeper and more severe disorder.