When a person has a panic attack, it can be frightening. Experts describe a panic attack as a period of angst and fear that arrives abruptly without there being any imminent danger approaching or present. They occur for no reason and produce bodily responses within the individual. A person in the thralls of an episode may feel as if all their self-control has escaped. It’s common for a person to think what he or she is enduring is a heart attack. What intensifies the experience of a panic attack for many people is the intractable fear of dying. For many people, they experience only one or two episodes throughout their life, and there are no recurring episodes to spark concern for it being chronic. However, when panic attacks return frequently, it may indicate a condition known as panic disorder. Experiencing recurrent, yet sporadic panic attacks cause many people to go through life in continual fear that another horrific episode could lurk around the corner.
Undoubtedly, panic attacks for the sufferer are direful and fearsome. Their root cause is abysmal anxiety capable of triggering a racing heart and weak knees. Breathing becomes difficult for those having a panic attack, and a person may become dizzy or experience chest pain. For those with panic disorder, the fear of unexpectedly having another attack is dreadful and torturous. Many people try to avoid situations they feel could create the profound anxiety which sparks an episode. Medicine is effective in treating panic attacks, but there is also cognitive-behavioral therapy as a proven way to manage stress and panic. By changing thoughts, a person can allow his or her mind to deviate consciously from a pattern of catastrophic thinking and projecting toward an imagined future event. Becoming mindful of how thoughts can trigger physical responses, which create panic-producing outcomes, is a significant step to combating unsettling thoughts and feelings of impending doom.
Questions and Answers
Q: Is there a difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack?
A: An anxiety attack may produce symptoms like a panic attack, but anxiety attacks are a response to a stressor. Whereas, panic attacks arise unexpectedly and with no immediate cause.
Q: How does a person know if he or she has had a panic attack?
A: The first sign is the episode's surprising and unanticipated onset of discomfort and severe fear within a short interval of minutes. A person needs to experience at least four of the symptoms below to categorize a panic attack:
- Fearing an advent of death
- Sped up heartbeat or palpitations
- Fearful of “going insane” or losing self-directed power or control
- Detached from reality or oneself
- Tingling or sensations of numbness (paresthesia)
- Loss of breath
- Chilly or warm feelings
- Sensations of choking
- A light-headed or dizzy feeling
- Chest discomfort or pain
Q: How long can a panic attack last?
A: Panic attacks come to a peak within 10 minutes and hardly lasts longer than 60 minutes. Most end within 30 minutes or fewer.
Q: Does anxiety run in families?
A: New studies reveal that anxiety disorders or susceptibility to having panic attacks can develop from a multiple of implicating factors, which include genetics, and not limited to personality, brain chemistry, and life events.
Q: Can someone die from having a panic attack?
A: A person may feel faint or that he or she will die, but even in a full-blown panic attack, death is not a reality.
Q: What should a person do when having a panic attack?
A: The important thing for a person to do is learn techniques to manage anxiety and gain authority which can include slow, deep breathing, organizing mazy and convoluted thoughts, and positive thinking, to name a few.
Q: Are panic attacks dangerous?
A: The sensations experienced during a panic attack could feel like insanity or loss of control, but they are not dangerous — just unpleasant and frightening.
Q: Should you go to the hospital for a panic attack?
A: It isn't necessary to go to the hospital for panic attacks. There are methods and steps you can take to bring about calmness and control. Most episodes subside after 30 minutes, but if you are not sure, seek medical attention at a hospital.
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