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  • The Sky Is Falling!
    A panic attack can be a frightening experience, especially if it’s your first. The good news is there can be hope and healing for people who suffer from panic attacks. Keep reading to learn the signs and symptoms of panic attacks, their causes, and how they are best treated. Read >>
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The Sky Is Falling!

Learn the symptoms, causes, and treatment for panic attacks

A panic attack can be a frightening experience, especially if it’s your first. All of a sudden you feel an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety. You feel tightness in your chest and a shortness of breath that makes you wonder if you’re having a heart attack. Then it ends. Or so you hope. After a panic attack, you live in fear that another will happen, a fear that can contribute to the next one.

The good news is there can be hope and healing for people who suffer from panic attacks. Keep reading to learn the signs and symptoms of panic attacks, their causes, and how they are best treated.

Intense Fear

Everyone feels anxious at times. Your heart may race and your stomach may feel in knots. But unless you’ve experienced a panic attack before, you don’t know just how overwhelming it can be. Panic attacks are episodes of intense anxiety that usually build in intensity, reaching a peak after a few minutes, and then subsiding slowly. Most attacks last less than 20 to 30 minutes, but they feel like an eternity.

During an attack, your heart begins to race without warning, you break out in a sweat, and you start to tremble. You may feel short of breath, like you’re choking, or unable to breathe. Other common symptoms include nausea, chest pain, dizziness, feeling hot or cold, numbness or tingling, or feeling that you’re going crazy. You may even feel a detachment from reality or from yourself and may feel impending doom or that death is near.

People having a panic attack typically experience at least four of the symptoms listed above. It’s no wonder people mistake panic attacks for heart attacks, thyroid issues, or breathing disorders and run to the emergency room.

Unknown Cause

They’re called an attack because they often come out of nowhere with little to no warning, sometimes even during sleep. People with frequent attacks may have triggers such as heights, public speaking, crowds, or being confined in small spaces.

Like other mental health conditions, the cause of panic attacks is largely unknown. Genetics, stressful life situations, brain function abnormalities, and a personality that’s sensitive to stress all seem to play a role in panic attacks.
People with certain medical conditions such as hypoglycemia, mitral valve prolapse, or hyperthyroidism are more prone to panic attacks, as are people who use stimulant drugs or are on withdrawal from medication.

Get Help

You don’t have to live in fear of recurrent panic attacks. There’s treatment available, so make an appointment with your doctor today. Medications, self-help tactics, and psychotherapy are all effective means of treatment.

It’s also recommended you find a counselor trained to lead you through cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy works to change the way you think and react to certain situations. Exposure therapy can also benefit people with panic disorder. As you’re gradually exposed to things or situations that cause anxiety, you learn to control your emotional response.

And don’t neglect to educate yourself about panic attacks. By doing this, you won’t feel like you’re losing your mind when you have one. Learn to control your breathing and practice relaxation techniques. Avoid stimulant drugs like alcohol, caffeine, diet pills, non-drowsy cold medicines, and smoking. Be sure to get enough sleep and regular exercise.

Do all of this and the panic attacks may still come on occasion, but you’ll be able to get them under control faster and move on with life.