Panic Attack: Frequently Asked Questions

Panic Attack: Frequently Asked Questions
24 Jan 2022
9 mins
Table Of Content
Panic Attack: Frequently Asked Questions

    Anything that happens without warning is scary. Right? Panic attacks can also occur abruptly. They can be very frightening, but it’s not a life-threatening condition. Fortunately, they are highly treatable, and a person who has panic attacks can lead a normal life. Here are the answers to the frequently asked questions about panic attacks.


    What Does A Panic Attack Mean?


    A panic attack is a sudden intense feeling of fear that triggers unpleasant physical sensations in response to a non-threatening and normal situation. It can be severely upsetting and uncomfortable, but they are not dangerous. Anyone can have panic attacks. Women are twice as likely to get panic attacks compared to men.


    ● What Causes A Panic Attack?


    Researchers still don’t know why some people experience panic attacks. There are certain factors that may increase the risk. Those are family history of panic disorders or mental health disorders, personal history of mental illness, major stress, major life transition such as graduation, having a first baby, death of a spouse, drug abuse, history of sexual or physical abuse and chronic alcoholism.


    Symptoms similar to panic attacks can be caused by physical and medical conditions such as mitral valve prolapse (minor cardiac problem), low blood sugar levels, withdrawal of medicines, usage of stimulants such as cocaine, caffeine, amphetamines, and thyroid problems.


    ● What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Panic Attack?


    The signs of a panic attack include:

    • Sudden chills or hot flashes
    • Difficulty breathing or tightness in your throat
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness
    • Fear of loss of control
    • Fear of death
    • Sweating, shaking, trembling
    • Pounding heartbeat
    • Tingling in toes or fingers
    • Nausea
    • Abdominal discomfort
    • Chest pain, choking feeling
    • Feeling detached and unreal
    • Tense muscles
    • Dry mouth


    ● How Long Does A Panic Attack Last?


    Panic attack symptoms generally reach their peak within ten minutes and mostly end within twenty to thirty minutes. It rarely lasts more than an hour, but the emotional impact may last for a few hours.


    ● What Does A Panic Attack Feel Like?


    Panic attacks can be very frightening. Although there is no apparent danger, the danger seems very real to a person having an attack. A person might even think that he is having a heart attack or about to die. 


    ● How Does A Panic Attack Start?


    Everyone experiences panic attacks in a different way, but they commonly begin with shortness of breath, a pounding heart, dizziness, shaking, feelings of choking and terror.


    ● How Does A Panic Attack Happen?


    They occur suddenly without any warning. They can occur anytime, even when you are asleep.


    ● How To Know If You Have A Panic Attack?


    If you suddenly experience four or more of the symptoms of a panic attack, you may be having a panic attack.


    ● How To Identify A Panic Attack?


    Only a licensed mental health professional can certainly tell you whether your symptoms are related to a panic attack or other health problems. So, it becomes important to know the symptoms and explain the symptoms you experienced in detail when seeing a doctor. 

    ● What To Do When You Get A Panic Attack?


    Having a panic attack, especially in a public place, can be more distressing. People often worry that others may think that they are crazy. Remember that many of the symptoms of a panic attack may not be even noticeable to other people. 


    Carry a smooth stone, beaded pendant or bracelet or essential oils in your handbag always. Touching and feeling them will slow your breathing and connect you with the present. 


    Try to move into a calmer place. If you feel you can’t handle it on your own, ask someone nearby for help. Before asking a stranger to help, be sure that you are in a safe and well-lit spot with other people present. Call your family member or friend to take you home instead of returning alone.


    ● How To Help A Person Who Is Having A Panic Attack?


    Try to understand the condition of the person who is under panic attack. It might not look real or make sense to you, but the person under panic attack might feel the situation as dangerous. Find a quiet place for that person to sit and ask them to take deep breaths. Tell them they are safe, and the attack won’t last long. Try to hold their hands if they are okay with it. 


    Ask them whether they want to go somewhere else or need anything. Asking what they need and respecting their request is crucial. Give them an object to focus on and feel, which can help in distracting them. When symptoms don’t improve or persist for more than 20 minutes, reach out for emergency help.

    ● How To Treat A Panic Attack?


    The first step is understanding what a panic attack is and how common it is. Simply knowing about the disorder helped many people to be more realistic in viewing the attacks. The treatment of panic attack involves:


    Cognitive-behavioural Therapy, you will be discussing your emotions and thoughts with a psychologist or psychiatrist. They help in identifying things that trigger the attack and changes you can make in behaviors, thinking, and responses to decrease the attack.


    Exposure Therapy, where the person is exposed to a situation where their sensations of panic and fear are triggered in a controlled and safe environment. So repeated exposure enables them to control their emotions and understand that the situation is not dangerous. The panic experience will become less terrifying.


    Antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to lessen the symptoms of an attack.

    ● How To Control A Panic Attack?


    Deep breathing, guided imagery techniques, and practising mindfulness are some of the excellent relaxation techniques that will be helpful in managing the symptoms such as dizziness, tightness of the chest, and loss of control while having a panic attack. Pick the one which is effective and easy for you and include that in your daily life also to reduce anxiety.


    ● Can I Prevent Panic Attacks?


    You cannot completely prevent panic attacks. If you feel you may be prone to them, you can follow healthy habits to protect yourself. Avoid smoking, excessive caffeine, and alcohol since they will worsen your anxiety. 


    Follow breathing exercises and moderate physical activity every day. They help in managing stress. Eat a nutritious and balanced diet. If you think you had a panic attack, visit a mental health professional to rule out the causes to avoid other health problem

    ● How To Treat A Panic Attack At Home?


    Lowering the chances of having a panic attack starts with your everyday habits. Following the healthy habits discussed in the previous question may lower your chances of getting it.


    ● What Are The Complications Of A Panic Attack?


    Untreated panic attacks can cause serious problems. The person may avoid situations in which the attack has occurred. Some people even begin to believe staying inside the home prevents the attack. The quality of life can get damaged. 


    People who suffer from panic attacks may spend less time on leisure activities, are more prone to drug and alcohol abuse, experience financial problems, feel emotionally less healthy, and have an increased risk of suicidal thoughts. Know about the symptoms and treatment of clinical depression.


    Treatment Can Be Very Effective:


    Panic attacks are hard to manage without professional help. If you carefully follow the treatment plan suggested by your mental health physician, you will find a noticeable and tremendous improvement within a few months. Don’t let your panic attack create health complications just because you are embarrassed to seek help.


    Written by
    GuruvigneshwariContent Writer
    AboutM.Pharmacy (Pharmacognosy)
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