A panic attack is characterized by sudden tremendous waves of fear that initiates a number of physical responses. These reactions are often seen during situations that are not very threatening or frightening. The attacks may repeat after a period of time. Under normal conditions, fear and anxiety are produced as responses to stressful situations. Panic attacks happen at unexpected times in situations that are not stressful.
Studies show that about 20% of people in the U.S. are affected by panic disorder. This disorder is found more commonly among women than men. It is very common that those who have panic disorder may have different types of phobias. Panic disorder can be very paralyzing, and if appropriate treatment is extended it may have a less serious impact on a person’s life. It mostly develops during late adolescence and early adulthood.
The most common symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Intense fear about something including death
- Choked feeling
- Hot flashes
- Abdominal pain
- Tingling or numbness in fingers
- Difficulty in swallowing
Most of the people who have panic disorder fear the possibility of future attacks. They tend to avoid situations and places that may trigger any form of panic attacks. Many refuse to step out of the house in fear of having another event.
The actual cause of the panic attack is still not clear. A number of factors, like family history, stress, changes in brain functioning, and substance abuse are associated with panic disorder. Many of the stressful situations in life, like death of a loved, one are known to trigger the attack.
Panic disorder is treated using a combination of therapies.
The most common therapies used to treat panic disorder include:
- Psychotherapy – In this therapy trained professionals help the person to understand and deal with the stressful situation and the disorder.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy – Here the person is taught to change the thinking patterns that may trigger the panic attack. This therapy also helps to identify the possible triggers of the disorder.
- Medications – Panic disorders are treated using antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs. Beta blockers are also recommended to reduce anxiety.
- A panic disorder can cause an individual to have a panic attack at any given moment.
- Panic disorders cause an individual to experience extreme fear approaching different situations, which leads to a number of physical responses.
- A number of factors, like family history, stress, changes in brain functioning, and substance abuse are associated with panic disorder.