Panic attack significantly affects the quality of life and results in frailty and depression. Patients with panic attacks experience episodes of overwhelming fear. Various things or situations may cause panic attacks – a panic attack results in a fast heart rate, difficulty sleeping, nausea and vomiting. There are different panic attack treatments. Patients adhering to treatment for panic attacks have a positive outlook.
What is a Panic Attack?
A panic attack is characterized by sudden and intense episodes of overwhelming fear without any immediate danger or threat. They think that they might have a heart attack or can die.
In some people, panic attack episodes occur a few times in life due to excessive stress. Once the stress disappears, such people begin to live everyday life. It may not require any medical interventions. However, in others, there is a persistent fear resulting in recurring and frequent panic attacks. It is known as panic disorder.
Updated DSM, the DSM-5, has categorized panic attacks as expected or unexpected types. Expected panic attacks occur due to external stimulators such as phobias, while unexpected panic attacks do not have any obvious cause. People with this condition are also at high risk for substance abuse and alcoholism.
What are the Symptoms of a Panic Attack?
A panic attack may hit you without any warning. Some of the symptoms are:
- Increased heart rate
- Sense of immediate danger
- Difficulty breathing or chest tightness
- Fear of death or loss of control
- Tingling sensation and numbness
- Abdominal stress
- Nausea, vomiting, and dizziness
- Feeling detached from self
- Shaking and trembling
If you are suffering from one or more of the above symptoms and have not understood much about panic attacks, visit the best psychiatry hospital with prior appointments.
What are the Reasons for a Panic Attack?
The exact reasons for a panic attack are not known. However, genetic factors, stress, and high sensitivity to stressful situations may play a role in developing panic attacks. Research suggests that such patients inherit a sensitive “central nervous system fear mechanism, present in the amygdala.”
Panic attacks initiate without any obvious danger and warning. However, over time, a panic attack may occur in response to certain situations.
The immediate or perceived threats due to sensation or seeing sensitive media images result in anxiety. It leads to chest pain, rapid heart rate, and difficulty breathing. The patient becomes hypervigilant about these sensations that further increase the anxiety and its symptoms—this cascade results in a panic attack.
How do Doctors Diagnose Panic Attacks?
There are different techniques to diagnose panic attacks. Some of them are:
- Complete physical examination: The doctor may conduct a thorough physical examination and ask you in detail about your symptoms.
- ECG: The doctor may also advise you to electrocardiography (ECG) to rule out a heart attack.
- Blood tests: The doctor may also recommend blood tests to evaluate the level of thyroid hormone. It helps to rule out thyroid disorders.
- Psychological evaluation: You may also undergo a psychological evaluation during which a mental health professional will discuss your fear, trauma, relationship problems, and stress. The best counseling doctor in Coimbatore determines the underlying causes of panic attacks.
What are the Treatment Options for Panic Attacks?
Treatment of panic attacks depends upon the severity and frequency. Some of the available avenues of treatment are:
- Medications: Doctors may prescribe you certain drugs that reduce the symptoms, severity, and frequency of panic attacks. The doctor may also prescribe alternative medicine or a combination if one drug cannot manage your symptoms.
- Therapy: You may also undergo psychotherapy or talk therapy. Through these modes of therapy, you will know more about panic attacks and the various ways to cope with your symptoms. This therapy requires long-term efforts, and it may take a few weeks to experience the results.
- Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle changes may also help in managing panic attack symptoms. Panic attacks can be managed and prevented by leading an active life, avoiding smoking, alcohol, and drugs, and adhering to the treatment strategy. Certain products, such as acupressure mats and essential oils, help in relieving anxiety.
There is no known reason for a panic attack. However, panic attacks may have genetic, environmental, and emotional causes. Diagnosis of a panic attack is through physical examination and psychological evaluation. The doctor may perform ECG and blood tests to rule out a heart attack and thyroid disorder, respectively.