Panic disorder (panic attacks)
Someone with panic disorder has frequent and repeated episodes of something called panic attacks. These panic attacks are periods of intense fear in discomfort that something bad going to happen. These panic attacks can happen even in familiar places where no real threats exist. They usually come about suddenly in peak within the first 10 to 20 minutes but sometimes symptoms can last for an hour or more. People having a panic attack feel like there is some real threat or danger and we feel this way our bodies react accordingly write. This reaction can be so severe in so intense that some people having panic attacks feel as if they're having a heart attack or some other life-threatening illness when they're actually not.
Panic disorder (panic attacks) symptoms
Symptoms that might come about during a panic attack are things like:
- chest pain or discomfort
- fear of dying losing control or impending doom
- feelings of choking detachment or unreality
- nausea upset stomach numbness or tingling in the hands feet or face
- palpitations which is like this feeling that your heart's pounding
- shortness of breath
- sweating chills or hot flashes and trembling
If you experience for more of any of these symptoms you might be diagnosed with the panic disorder. Unfortunately panic attacks cannot be predicted and often happen without any particular trigger being involved.
With that said it is important to have treated as soon as possible before the patient starts to avoid places where they have happened in the past, which is called avoidance, and this is where a patient that has had a panic attack before stops doing activities that they think triggered the panic attacks. For example if someone has a panic attack while they are in an elevator they might think that that elevator triggered the attack and so those start avoiding going on elevators. Although this might help temporarily with the fear of attack and loss of control, it makes normal daily life extremely difficult and does not usually even stop the attacks from happening. Along the same lines somebody might develop anxiety just thinking about the possibility of having a panic attack and this is called anticipatory anxiety. This can result in the person becoming a reclusive and choosing to endure it the attacks alone rather than in public where they think there is no chance of escape in slight chance of help. Sometimes this can lead to the development of a specific phobia called agoraphobia which is a fear of being in public are crowded spaces.
As we mentioned though the cause of each panic attack usually isn't linked to any specific trigger and the cause of having panic disorder in general is unknown. However, it has been found run in families, which hinted there being some sort of genetic component. Also about twice as many, women as men experience panic disorder that there has not been found to be any differences between ethnic economic or geographic backgrounds. Usually panic disorder starts in the patient's twenties and sometimes a stressful event comes before the disorder and triggers the first attack. However, usually there are not any specific events to associate with the attacks.
Panic disorder (panic attacks) treatment
Once it's been diagnosed by a mental health professional many patients will seek treatment and like most other mental disorders this involves either psychotherapy, medication or both, depending on what that particular patient responds best to.
Behavior therapy a form of psychotherapy is typically very effective and consists of five fundamentals when applied to panic disorder.
- In the first stage called the learning stage the patient learns about panic disorder including how to identify the symptoms they also go for the treatment plan.
- Then in the second stage, which called the monitoring stage. The patient will keep a diary to monitor the panic attacks in record in situations that might produce anxiety.
- In the third stage, called the breeding stage, they learn relaxation techniques to control breathing and help combat the physical reactions of a panic attack.
- The fourth stage is called rethinking where the therapist helps the patient change their beliefs about the physical symptoms from totally catastrophic to something more realistic and less harmful.
- And finally makes boasting stage with their purse helps the patient expose themselves to situations that cause frightening physical sensation and gradually increases the intensity levels so that the patient starts to feel more and more comfortable being around whatever it is that produces the anxiety and hopefully will reduce the likelihood of having a panic attack in the future.
Aside cognitive behavior therapy though they are also medications that can be Prescribed. If these are chosen antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed medications for panic attacks. In addition, anxiety medications can sometimes be prescribed like Benzodiazepines. Moreover, you will tend to have this calming and relaxing effect. Although these are typically less preferred since there's a higher risk of becoming dependent. Finally, anti-seizure medications can also be prescribed in very severe cases.
Overall, between these treatment options many patients that get appropriate psychiatric care can recover and return to normal activities.