What is a Panic Attack?
Experiencing a panic attack involves feeling a strong sense of fear or panic, which can result in various symptoms. These attacks can occur unexpectedly and can be pretty frightening. However, it is essential to note that they do not immediately threaten your safety. Generally, they last for five to twenty minutes before subsiding.
Panic can be a normal reaction to feeling overwhelmed or threatened. It can cause intense fear and anxiety and manifest as physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and sweating. This is your body's way of preparing you to respond to a dangerous or stressful situation.
If a person experiences frequent episodes of intense fear or worry that are accompanied by physical and psychological symptoms, this could be an indication of panic disorder.
It's common to experience a cycle of fear and panic. The intensity and frequency of panic attacks can vary from person to person. Some may experience them occasionally, while others may have them multiple times a week.
The condition can start in adolescence, but it can also affect people of any age.
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
Psychological symptoms of panic
- Feeling tearful or upset
- A sense of dread, panic or danger
- Tiredness because of difficulty sleeping
- Feeling worried, nervous, apprehensive or uneasy
- Trouble concentrating
- Being more alert than normal
- Bad mood
Physical symptoms of panic
Before or during an anxiety attack, you may notice:
- Low sex drive
- Dry mouth
- Chest pain, a tight throat or trouble breathing
- Stomach or digestive problems, such as your stomach churning
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Loss of appetite
- Trembling or shaking
What to do when you’re having a Panic Attack?
In the event of an attack, it is advisable to prioritize your breathing technique, which can effectively aid in reducing anxiety.
Our medical professionals can assist you in honing these techniques and devising a personalized coping strategy. This strategy can be utilized whenever you sense the onset of a panic attack.
Typically, there is no necessity to visit the hospital following an attack. However, it is wise to consult with a physician if you still need to, as they can help identify the root cause of the issue.
Causes of Panic Attacks
Although the precise origins of panic disorders remain uncertain, it is evident that they typically arise due to psychological or physical stressors.
Panic disorders may manifest independently or result from various factors such as phobias, traumatic life experiences, or pre-existing anxiety disorders.
Moreover, the likelihood of developing a panic disorder may increase if there is a family history of anxiety or panic disorders or a chemical imbalance in the brain.
The apprehension associated with experiencing a panic attack can compound these concerns, giving rise to additional issues, such as the fear of going out in public due to the potential for another attack.
Health Conditions that Cause Panic Attack
Underlying health conditions can trigger panic attacks, and addressing and treating these conditions is crucial. In fact, in some instances, panic attacks can serve as the initial indicator of an undiagnosed illness.
It's common to experience anxiety concurrently with other mental health issues, including depression. If our medical professionals suspect this coexistence, they can recommend the appropriate treatment or make referrals to specialists if more specialized assistance is necessary.
Anxiety has been linked with various medical conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Thyroid disorders
- Respiratory ailments such as COPD or asthma
- Substance abuse or withdrawal from drugs/alcohol
- Persistent pain or conditions like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- In exceedingly rare instances, the presence of tumours
Additionally, it's worth noting that certain medications might also be a potential cause of anxiety. If you suspect that your medication could be contributing to your anxiety, it's advisable to consult with a doctor for further evaluation.
How are Panic Attacks Diagnosed?
When you consult a doctor, they will initiate the evaluation by inquiring about your symptoms and any specific situations that appear to trigger your attacks. Furthermore, they will inquire about your overall health, mental well-being, and the duration you have encountered these symptoms.
Based on their assessment, your doctor might recommend additional tests to rule out other potential conditions, such as heart rhythm irregularities. Additionally, they may suggest a referral to a psychologist or another mental health specialist. These professionals can work closely with you to delve deeper into your condition, provide further insights, and assist you in developing effective day-to-day management strategies.
What’s the Treatment for Panic Attacks?
Treatment for panic disorders can involve various approaches, including talking therapies, medication, or a combination.
Discussing your panic with a doctor can be beneficial, as it can help identify its underlying causes and empower you to take control of the situation. Additionally, there are self-help groups you can join if you're comfortable, or doctors can refer you to specialists who can provide the necessary assistance.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
If your doctor believes CBT might be beneficial after discussing your symptoms, they may recommend it as a treatment option. CBT aims to teach you strategies to manage your symptoms effectively when they arise. It involves retraining your thought patterns and behaviours to control your symptoms better. Alternatively, counselling may be suggested based on your individual circumstances, with the treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Prescribed Medication for Panic Disorders
Doctors can prescribe medication to help alleviate your anxiety, including antidepressants, beta-blockers, or other suitable options. Doctors will choose the medication and dosage based on your symptoms and underlying cause. If a chemical imbalance in your brain is causing your anxiety, your doctor may prescribe medication to treat it.
If you feel overwhelmed by your panic attacks, seeking help from a doctor is crucial. Our healthcare professionals at Mobi Doctor can listen to your situation, offer personalized advice, and create a treatment plan to help you regain control and improve your well-being.