What is a Panic Attack?
Panic attacks and Panic disorders are sudden and intense episode of extreme fear or discomfort that often comes on without warning. It is a manifestation of anxiety and can be a distressing experience for those who go through it.
Panic Attack Symptoms
Panic attacks usually have physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms. Panic attack symptoms include:
- Palpitations (rapid heartbeat).
- Chest discomfort.
- Breathlessness or suffocation.
- Shaking or trembling.
- Feeling dizzy.
- GI distress.
- Fever or chills.
- Tingling or chills.
- Terror or dread.
- Sense of impending doom or fear of going insane.
- Death or heart attack phobia.
- Racing thoughts.
- Concentration issues.
- Extreme anxiety.
- Losing mental control.
- Critical self-talk.
Panic Attack Treatment Overview
At We Level Up, we understand that panic attacks can be challenging for mental illness and anxiety. They can lead to worsened symptoms of various disorders, decreased response to therapy, and even suicidal thoughts. Accurately diagnosing panic disorders involves recognizing the defining characteristics of panic attacks. One should understand the importance of differentiating between symptoms that arise during a genuine alarm event and a panic attack.
Substance abuse, medication side effects, or medical conditions like hyperthyroidism or vestibular dysfunction can trigger panic attacks. However, we believe underlying issues may contribute to these attacks, and we are here to help you overcome them. Individuals struggling with panic disorder often experience overwhelming physical sensations of fear and anxiety.
Panic Attack vs Anxiety Attack
Anxiety and panic attacks are different but often used interchangeably. Understanding the difference between panic attack and anxiety attacks helps people identify and manage their symptoms. Panic vs. anxiety attacks:
- Intensity: Panic attacks cause sudden, intense fear or discomfort. They peak within minutes and are accompanied by physical symptoms like a racing heart, shortness of breath, chest pain, trembling, and a sense of impending doom.
- Triggered Response: Phobias, traumatic events, and stress can trigger panic attacks. Spontaneous panic attacks occur without a trigger.
- Panic attacks last 10–20 minutes. Some symptoms may last longer or return quickly.
- Psychological Distress: Panic attacks can cause psychological distress and anxiety about future attacks.
- Gradual Build-up: Anxiety attacks usually start with worry, tension, or unease. Symptoms may last longer than panic attacks.
- Stress: Work, relationship, and financial stressors can cause anxiety attacks. GAD and SAD can also cause them.
- Physical and Emotional Symptoms: Anxiety attacks can cause heart palpitations, sweating, and restlessness. Emotional symptoms include excessive worrying, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and feeling overwhelmed.
- Anxiety attacks vary in severity. Unlike panic attacks, they may last longer.
Panic Attacks (Panic Disorder) Facts
Panic Attacks Overview
Panic attacks are sudden, overwhelming fear or distress. Panic disorder, an anxiety disorder, is characterized by them. Panic attacks:
Panic attack definition: A panic attack is a sudden, intense fear or discomfort that lasts minutes. Physical and psychological symptoms are common.
Panic Attack Symptoms (Physical)
- Panic attacks can cause a rapid or pounding heartbeat.
- Chest pain or tightness.
- Shortness of breath, dizziness, or lightheadedness.
- Trembling or shaking.
- Nausea or stomach discomfort.
- And choking.
Duration and Frequency
Panic attacks peak within minutes and subside within 20-30 minutes. Some panic attacks last longer. Panic attacks occur frequently in people with panic disorder.
Panic Disorder Triggers
Panic attacks can occur without warning. They can also be triggered by crowded, enclosed, or anxiety-inducing situations.
Impact on Daily Life
Panic attacks can significantly impact a person’s daily life and functioning. Fear of experiencing another attack can lead to avoidance behaviors, which may limit social activities, work, or travel. Over time, this can contribute to feelings of isolation and anxiety about possibly having a panic attack in public.
Panic Attack Treatment
Effective treatment options are available for panic attacks and panic disorder. These may include therapy approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps individuals understand and manage their panic symptoms, and medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which can help reduce anxiety.
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Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder Statistics
- Prevalence: 2-3% of people have panic attacks. Recurrent panic attacks characterize the panic disorder, which affects 2-6% of adults.
- Age: Panic attacks usually start between 20 and 30. They can develop at any age, including childhood and adulthood.
- Panic disorder affects women twice as often as men. Biological, hormonal, and socio-cultural factors may explain this gender gap.
- Panic attacks often occur with other mental health issues. 60-70% of people with panic disorder also have major depression, and many also have other anxiety disorders like generalized or social anxiety.
- Quality of Life: Panic attacks can severely impact the quality of life. They may cause fear, embarrassment, and avoidance. Research shows panic disorder impairs social, occupational, and educational functioning.
- Treatment Success: Most panic disorder patients improve with treatment. Medication and therapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can reduce panic attacks and their severity.
Estimated percentage of people that experiences panic attacks.
Source: National Institute on Mental Health
people with panic disorder also have major depression and other anxiety disorders like generalized or social anxiety.
Source: National Institute on Mental Health
20-30 yrs Old
Panic attacks usually start between 20 and 30. They can develop at any age, including childhood and adulthood.
Source: National Institute on Mental Health
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How to Stop a Panic Attack?
Experiencing a panic attack can be a distressing and overwhelming experience, but some strategies can help you manage and stop a panic attack. Try these methods:
- Deep Breathing: Practice deep breathing to relax. Slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repetition will help you relax.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Muscle tension can intensify panic attacks. Progressive muscle relaxation helps you relax by tensing and releasing different muscle groups.
- Grounding techniques: Can help you focus and reduce panic symptoms. Describe your surroundings or engage your senses by touching a textured surface or smelling a calming scent.
- Challenge Negative Thoughts: Panic attacks often involve catastrophic thinking. Question these thoughts and replace them with positive, realistic ones. Remember that panic attacks are temporary and that you have managed them before.
- Distract yourself: Do something else besides the panic attack. Listening to soothing music, doing a hobby, or talking to a supportive friend or family member can help.
- Seek Professional Help: If panic attacks frequently disrupt your life, seek professional help. Mental health professionals can diagnose, treat, and teach coping skills.
What Causes Panic Attacks?
Panic Disorder causes can be biological and psychological, and the environment can cause panic attacks. Several factors cause panic attacks, but their exact cause is unknown. Panic attacks are often caused by:
- Biological factors: Serotonin and norepinephrine imbalances can cause panic attacks. Genetics can also increase risk.
- Anxiety and stress: Stress and anxiety can cause panic attacks. Traumatic events, life changes, and ongoing stressors can cause panic attacks.
- Phobias and triggers: Can cause panic attacks in susceptible people. Crowded places, driving, flying, heights, and confined spaces are triggers. Panic attacks in these situations can cause anxiety and avoidance.
- Substance use and withdrawal: Caffeine, nicotine, and some medications can cause panic attacks. Alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal can also cause panic.
- Thyroid, cardiovascular, and respiratory disorders can cause panic attacks. Recurrent panic attacks should be checked for medical causes.
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How Long Do Panic Attacks Last?
How long does a panic attack last? Different people, and even different episodes of panic attacks, can last for different amounts of time. Depending on the individual, a panic attack can average from ten to thirty minutes. Some people have multiple panic attacks in a short period of time, while others may have fewer but longer-lasting episodes.
The severity of a panic attack can change as it progresses. The worst of the symptoms typically occur within the first 10 minutes. Some lingering symptoms, such as anxiety or fatigue, are common and may last longer.
The panic attacks may not last long, but the anxiety they cause can significantly negatively impact a person’s quality of life for quite some time afterward. Anxiety and avoidance behaviors can result from worrying about having a panic attack or having one in public.
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Panic Attacks Treatments
If you’re experiencing panic attacks, it’s best to seek medical attention from a trained professional. The frequency and severity of panic attacks can be drastically reduced with the help of expert and tried-and-true techniques. Having someone close by who can offer support if your anxiety becomes overwhelming increases the efficacy of the various home treatments for panic attacks.
In addition, before trying any at-home treatment for panic attacks, it’s best to talk to your doctor. Seeking medical advice can help ease worries about underlying health conditions, even though physical causes of panic attacks are uncommon. The lingering doubt can be alleviated by seeing a doctor to rule out any physical causes of your panic attacks. Although many people feel relieved after seeing a doctor, it’s important to remember that some will always feel the doctor missed something.
Professional therapy is the gold standard for treating panic attacks, panic disorder, and agoraphobia. Simply put, most people can get their seizures under control and even stopped by treatments for panic attacks. Your symptoms will determine the course of treatment. However, relapse is possible, especially if treatment for panic attacks is discontinued too soon. Psychotherapy is useful for treating and preventing panic attacks and panic disorders. Drugs could be an option as well.
We Level Up WA Panic Attack and Panic Disorder Treatment
Panic attacks and panic disorder respond well to psychotherapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The negative thought patterns and actions contributing to panic attacks are uncovered and challenged in CBT. Individuals can better understand the irrationality of their fears by analyzing the fear and catastrophic beliefs that emerge during an attack. The frequency and severity of panic attacks can be reduced with the help of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches patients ways to cope with stressful situations, relax their bodies and minds, and gradually expose themselves to things they fear.
Panic Disorder Medication:
In severe cases of panic disorder, medication can be helpful in controlling symptoms. However, it is important to note that medication is not a panacea and does not get to the root of the problem, which is panic disorder. When combined with talk therapy and healthy habits, it shines.
Panic disorder is typically treated with antidepressants, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The full benefits of these drugs may not be seen for a few weeks, so it’s important to take them exactly as prescribed. Another class of drugs called benzodiazepines is useful for treating acute panic attacks. Although they may provide temporary relief in certain circumstances, they should be used cautiously due to the risk of dependence and withdrawal symptoms.
When other mental health issues are present alongside panic disorder, a multidisciplinary approach to treatment is required. A multidisciplinary team is best suited to address the patient’s complex needs and maximize the chances of full recovery when treating a patient with multiple diagnoses at once. Individuals experiencing panic attacks or panic disorders can rely on the expertise of our staff at We Level Up for effective, individualized care.
5 Popular Panic Attack Symptoms FAQs
How to help someone having a panic attack?
You can help a panicking person in many ways. First, be calm and reassuring to help them feel safe. Remove triggers or go somewhere quiet to make it safe. To regulate breathing, encourage deep breaths and slow exhalations. Let them know you care and their feelings are valid. Distract them by talking or doing something relaxing. Above all, be patient and supportive. For long-term support and guidance, professional help is essential.
What are some signs of a panic attack?
Panic attacks can vary, but common symptoms include a rapid or pounding heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, trembling or shaking, sweating, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, nausea or stomach discomfort, chills or hot flashes, a sense of impending doom or fear of losing control, and a feeling of being detached from oneself or reality. These physical and emotional symptoms can be intense and overwhelming, peaking in minutes and subsiding gradually. Panic attacks can cause distress and avoidance due to a fear of future attacks.
How to cure panic attacks fast?
Panic attacks cannot be cured, but they can be managed. Deep breathing, grounding, relaxation, challenging negative thoughts, trusted support, and medication or therapy may help. Creating a panic attack management plan with a doctor is crucial.
How to calm down from a panic attack?
Panic attacks can be calmed with several methods. To relax, take slow, deep breaths through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Grounding can help. Pay attention to your feet, sounds, and objects. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and releasing each muscle group to relax. Remind yourself that panic attacks are temporary to combat negative thoughts. A trusted friend or family member can also help manage panic attacks.
Can you die from a panic attack?
Panic attacks are scary but rarely life-threatening. Panic attacks can mimic heart attacks with symptoms like rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Panic attacks do not directly cause death. Exaggerated stress responses cause panic attacks and are not life-threatening.
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Learn About Anxiety Disorder Facts & Anxiety Treatment Programs | Informative Video
Anxiety disorders are prevalent mental health conditions. According to the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), 31.1% of Americans have suffered from some anxiety disorder. Everyone experiences anxiety because it is one of the body’s natural responses to stress, but people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive, and persistent worries about everyday situations. These sensations of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities and are difficult to control. They are also out of proportion to the actual degree of danger and last long after exposure to the trigger.
In many cases, these symptoms lead people to avoid situations or people that might trigger anxiety. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood. Fear activates the stress response, also known as the fight or flight response. This survival reaction immediately stimulates the body into emergency action, putting stress on the body.
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 VA Healthcare Panic Attacks – https://www.mirecc.va.gov/cih-visn2/documents/patient_education_handouts/panic_attacks_version_3.pdf Learn More About Panic Attack Treatment
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