What is a panic attack?
A panic attack can occur to someone while they’re doing something as simple as listening to a boring lecture in a classroom. It’s an abrupt, spontaneous sensation of being scared or anxious and can even feel like a heart attack or dying. Panic attack symptoms and heart attacks have alike symptoms, that’s why they often get confused with each other. Ergo, the term: panic attack. It’s an attack of panic that brings on feelings that usually occur when you’re nervous (pounding heart, dizziness) only that it’s most often caused by something unknown or occurs for no reason and usually goes on for 5-20 minutes. Recurrent panic attacks to a person means he/she has a panic disorder. Women are to more likely to experience panic attacks than men.
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
The chief panic attack symptoms are the feeling of excessive terror which affects your body causing even more symptoms. When a panic attack hits, the climax occurs usually after 10 minutes. After 30 minutes though, normally most panic attack symptoms wear off. If it exceeds one hour, medical attention is needed.
Panic attack symptoms may be:
- Extreme fright. “An alarm going off in your head”, so to speak
- Angina (chest pain).
- Queasiness; butterflies in your stomach.
- Breathing irregularity.
- Lightheadedness and trembling.
- Lack of sensation.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- As if choking.
- Cold/hot sensation.
- Terrified of losing it.
- “Out of body experience” or imagining things.
Panic attack symptoms may have evolved into something more (panic disorder) if:
- Panic attacks occur more often, especially when nothing’s wrong.
- Adjusting your whole life to the possibility of having a panic attack, like a phobia of having one.
Diagnosis of a Panic Attack
A panic attack is diagnosed by its symptoms. Ruling out of other possible health problems such as a heart attack, is done through a physical exam and taking the patient’s medical history. The doctor will investigate whether the symptoms lead to panic disorder by asking questions about symptoms, checking the heart, blood pressure, and blood tests.
Primary treatments for panic attacks and panic disorder are counseling and medication. Types of counseling that treat panic attacks/disorder are cognitive behavioral and exposure therapy. These help to change a person’s way of thinking so as to prevent panic attacks from happening in the first place. There are various medications that can be taken depending on which works best for you. The ideal effect is that Home treatment is also helpful where you learn how to handle stress and relaxation techniques to control a panic attack when it occurs. Additional things to try are family therapy, support groups, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, massage, aromatherapy, yoga, autogenic training, self-hypnosis, meditation, guided imagery, and music and humor therapy. The recommendation is to learn about your disorder as well as panic disorder in general, and using that knowledge to give yourself the most effective treatment for you as an individual.