A panic attack occurs when an individual experiences a sudden burst of severe anxiety or intense fear that can trigger several severe physical and emotional reactions without a reasonable apparent cause or danger being present. If you suffer with a panic attack, it may feel as though you have lost control, and many people have described the experience as one that involves an overwhelming sense of fear, anxiety, and apprehension. Many people will experience no more than a few panic attacks during the course of their lifetime, and they will only occur during a particularly stressful situation. However, if you find that you are dealing with recurrent panic attacks, or spend much of your time in fear or apprehension of further attacks, you may be suffering from a panic attack based anxiety disorder.
What Can Cause a Panic Attack?
Most of the time, a panic attack will occur when your body experiences a sudden and overwhelming rush of psychological and physical symptoms such as fear, distress, trouble breathing, or trembling. The number of panic attacks that you will experience will typically depend on the severity of your condition, where some people only have a couple of attacks a month, others have several panic attacks each week. Although they are very intense and frightening, panic attacks will not cause you any physical harm, and they are not considered to be physically dangerous.
Research has yet to discover what causes panic attacks or panic disorder, but as with other forms of mood and personality disorders, studies have suggested that the following factors may play some role:
- Changes in chemicals within your brain that impair function
- Major stressful or traumatic events
- A temperament that makes an individual more susceptible to stress
The Symptoms of a Panic Attack
A panic attack can occur suddenly, and without any prior warning at almost any time, regardless of whether you are sound asleep, in the middle of a meeting at work, or driving the car somewhere. Although panic attacks may happen in a variety of different ways, the symptoms will typically peak within approximately ten minutes, and after the attack begins to subside, many people find that they feel some degree of fatigue. Most panic attacks will include some of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal cramping
- Fear of loss of control
- Sense of impending danger
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Trouble swallowing
Usually, the worst thing about having a panic attack can be the intense fear that forms afterwards about having another one. You may find that you fear having a panic attack so badly that you develop Phobias about places and situations where one may occur. Some people find that they feel unable to leave their home because they feel unsafe anywhere else.
Complications with Panic Attacks
Panic attacks or panic disorders regularly begin to develop somewhere within the late teenage years to early adulthood, and can more regularly affect women than men. However, some of the following factors can have an impact upon the risk of developing panic attacks:
• Significant exposure to stress
• Experiencing a traumatic event or PTSD
• Critical changes in your life such as a new baby or the death of a loved one
• History of panic attacks within the family
If it is left untreated, panic attack disorder can have a variety of severe complications which affect various areas of a person’s life. You may find that you are so afraid of potential panic attacks that you live in a consistent state of fear. Complications that are linked to panic attacks include:
- The development of phobias
- Inability to function normally at work or school
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Avoidance of social situations
- Development of general anxiety
- Financial problems
Treatment for Panic Attacks
The goal of any treatment recommended for panic attacks is to eliminate or reduce the symptoms or effects of panic attacks. With psycho-therapeutic and medicinal treatment, many people find that they are able to resume living their everyday lives. Both forms of treatment can be effective in their own way, and your doctor will typically prescribe the right course of action for you according to your history, preference, and the severity of your disorder.
Panic attacks have been dismissed in the past as evidence of overactive nerves, but they are now recognized by medical professionals to be a serious and legitimate condition. Although they can have a severe impact on the way that you live your life, panic attacks are treatable and Creative Care is available to help.