Everything you need to know about Panic Attack

A panic attack is a brief period of severe anxiety that results in physical sensations of fear.A racing heart, shortness of breath, dizziness, trembling, and muscle tension are some of the symptoms. Panic attacks happen frequently and unpredictably, and they are frequently unrelated to any external threat. A panic attack might last anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour. The physical and mental impacts of the attack, on the other hand, may continue for a few hours.

Panic attacks are rather common. A panic episode affects up to 35% of the population at some point in their lives. An anxiety attack is another name for a panic attack.



Frequent and protracted panic attacks can be profoundly damaging if not treated. For fear of being attacked, the person may prefer to avoid a variety of scenarios (such as leaving their home or being alone).

Many people experience panic attacks only on rare occasions, such as during times of stress or illness. A person with panic disorder, which is a kind of anxiety condition, has recurring panic episodes. They usually suffer periodic and unexpected panic attacks, as well as persistent dread of further attacks.

The 'flight-or-fight' response

When the body is faced with an immediate threat, the brain instructs the autonomic nervous system to engage the ‘flight-or-fight' response. A variety of hormones, including adrenaline, rush the body, causing physiological changes. For example, to prepare for physical fighting or fleeing, the heart rate and breathing rate are increased, and blood is directed to the muscles.

A panic attack is considered to occur when the ‘fight-or-flight' response is elicited although there is no imminent danger. A panic attack can manifest itself in seemingly innocuous and stress-free situations, such as while watching television or sleeping.

Some of the factors that can prompt the body to incorrectly trigger the 'flight-or-fight' response are as follows:

  • Chronic (ongoing) stress leads the body to create more stress hormones, such as adrenaline, than usual.
  • Acute stress (such as witnessing a tragic occurrence) can flood the body with massive levels of stress hormones all at once.
  • Habitual hyperventilation — disrupts blood gas balance due to a lack of carbon dioxide in the circulation.
  • Intense physical activity - this may create strong reactions in some people.
  • Excessive caffeine consumption - caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, and other beverages, is a powerful stimulant.
  • Illness – can result in bodily changes.
  • A sudden difference in atmosphere, such as entering a crowded, hot, or uncomfortable area.
Who is prone to panic attacks?

A panic episode can happen to anyone. These elements are important:

Panic episodes often begin in adolescence or early adulthood. However, panic episodes can occur in people of all ages, including toddlers.

Gender: Panic disorder affects women twice as much as males.

What are the causes of panic attacks?

Experts are baffled as to why some people suffer from panic attacks or acquire panic disorder. The brain and nervous system both play important roles in how you perceive and deal with fear and anxiety. You are more likely to suffer from panic attacks if you have:

Anxiety disorders, particularly panic disorders, frequently run in families.

  • Panic attacks are more likely in people who suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, or other mental illnesses.
  • Problems with substance abuse: Alcoholism and drug addiction might raise the risk of panic attacks.
What exactly are the signs of a panic attack?

Panic attacks happen unexpectedly and without notice. There is no way to stop a panic attack once it has begun. Symptoms normally peak within 10 minutes of the commencement of an episode. They vanish quickly after. The following are symptoms of a panic attack:

  • Chest ache.
  • Chills.
  • Choking or suffocating sensation
  • Breathing is difficult.
  • Concern about losing control.
  • You're afraid you're going to die.
  • Nausea.
  • Racing heart.
  • Sweating.
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers or toes.
  • Shaking or trembling
  • How are panic attacks identified?

    Serious health issues, such as heart disease, thyroid disease, and lung problems, produce symptoms that are comparable to panic attacks. Your doctor may order tests to rule out a physical condition. If no physical reason can be identified, your provider may determine a diagnosis based on your symptoms and risk factors.

    Panic disorder can be diagnosed by medical or mental health professionals. When you get panic episodes on a regular basis and you:

    Constantly worry about having further panic attacks or the implications of having them.

    Concern yourself with losing control during a panic episode.

    Avoid situations that could set off a panic attack by altering your conduct.

    How are panic attacks managed or treated?

    Stopping panic attacks with psychotherapy, drugs, or a combination of the two is quite beneficial. The length of time you will require treatment is determined by the severity of your problem and how well you respond to treatment. Among the options are:

    Cognitive behavioural therapy

    (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. You talk to a mental health expert, such as a qualified counsellor or psychologist, about your feelings and thoughts. This professional assists you in identifying panic attack causes so that you can adjust your thoughts, behaviours, and reactions. As you begin to respond differently to triggers, the attacks become less frequent and, eventually, cease.

    What are the side effects of panic attacks?

    Panic attacks are treated successfully. Unfortunately, many people avoid receiving assistance because they are humiliated. Untreated panic episodes or panic disorder can make it difficult to enjoy life. You could develop:

    Anticipatory anxiety

    Extreme anxiety is triggered by the likelihood of experiencing a panic attack.

    Phobias

    A phobia is an abnormally strong and unjustified fear of anything specific. Acrophobia, for example, is a fear of heights, whereas claustrophobia is a dread of enclosed areas.

    Agoraphobia affects around two-thirds of patients with panic disorder. This anxiety condition makes you fearful of being in places or situations where a panic attack could occur. The fear can grow so intense that you are unable to leave your home.