Panic attacks are a symptom associated with the diagnosis of panic disorder. They can occur with a variety of anxiety and mood disorders, as well as other medical conditions. Panic attacks can happen in response to specific events or stressful situations.
What Is It Like to Have a Panic Attack?
A panic attack can be described as an intense feeling of fear or extreme nervousness that is brought on quickly and very abrupt. Typically, these feelings of terror occur without warning and are disproportionate to the actual threat or danger.
They often last for a brief duration. However, the effects of a panic attack can linger for several hours following the initial attack.
Panic attacks frequently involve a combination of emotional, cognitive, and physical symptoms. For example, when experiencing a panic attack, a person may feel embarrassed or distraught over their symptoms. A variety of somatic symptoms can occur, including sweating, shaking, and chest pain.
The person may fear that they might lose control of their body or mind. Overall, these symptoms can lead to feelings of terror, causing the person to want to escape from their situation.
A panic attack involves a sudden fear accompanied by four or more of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Chills or hot flushes
- Derealization or depersonalization
- Excessive sweating
- Fear of dying
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
- Feeling of choking
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Heart palpitations or accelerated heart rate
- Nausea or abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Trembling or shaking
Consult your doctor as they will also want to rule out the possibility of any separate medical conditions or related and co-occurring conditions.
Treatments for Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are a treatable symptom. Typically, treatment options will be geared toward the underlying cause and may involve a combination of medication and counselling.
Medications prescribed for symptoms of panic attacks include benzodiazepines, a type of anti-anxiety medication that can provide rapid relief for panic symptoms.
Counselling will help you explore your fears and learn to manage your frightening physical sensations.
If you are experiencing panic attacks, it is important that you seek professional help. The sooner you are treated, the more likely you will be able to get some relief and begin to manage your panic attacks.