The term panic attack has come to be used very widely to refer to a type of reaction associated with anxiety. Unfortunately today it has become very common for this type of condition to appear in more cases. Multiple factors contribute to some people eventually suffering from this condition, mainly due to stress.

Its main characteristic or symptoms are sudden and intense episodes of fear. Multiple physical symptoms begin to be experienced consecutively such as sweating, tremors, rapid heart rate, and trouble breathing normally. Those who suffer from them feel that they can practically die, these situations are uncontrollable.

Patients are wanted for panic which works as an alarm system , the body is physically separated to face any kind of surprise emergency. However, it is a reaction and it is aroused without any real threat. Eventually the symptoms diminish although these episodes can be frequent affecting the life of the patient.

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is defined as a sudden episode characterized by the feeling of intense fear . In turn, it generates multiple physical reactions that are uncontrollable and that in some cases can be of considerable severity. Generally, patients who experience it are reacting to a danger that is not real. That is, the actress cannot locate herself because there is no apparent cause.

Patients often describe this situation as a ” total loss of control “, both in their actions and in their decisions. They may even experience inclusive thoughts that can make them believe that they are not capable of facing their fears; in the worst case they might think they are going to die.

As for its physical manifestations, it is remarkable how the heart rate accelerates along with breathing . Some patients may experience these attacks in unexpected situations. It is not a problem that usually goes away, although it may stop being experienced for a while; when the stressful situation can be resolved.

It is not a condition that endangers the life of the patient, although it can cause a lot of fear and affect their long-term autonomy. In this way, it is very likely that it will irreparably affect social and personal life , which is why it is important to find the most appropriate treatment to treat these cases.

What are your symptoms?

As is the case in most disorders of this type, the symptoms show similarities, but also marked differences in each patient. This means that there is a wide diversity of symptoms , which also show a common pattern. For example, it is remarkable how these episodes start suddenly and without warning.

They can occur at any time and drastically change the behavior of the affected person . These attacks are likely to be occasional initially, but will eventually increase in frequency. The symptoms show many variations as well as the duration of the same for several minutes. Most often, once the attack is over, it unexpectedly disappears, leaving the patient feeling exhausted and fatigued.

The following are the most common signs or symptoms of a common panic attack. They are as follows:

  • Uncontrollable and permanent feeling of danger. The patient feels that he must be prepared for a possible imminent doom.
  • The fear of losing control is accompanied by negative thoughts that can be associated with death.
  • Two of the most common physical manifestations are tachycardia and palpitations. This causes changes in blood pressure and also in the rate of breathing, limiting.
  • Body sweating increases , is accompanied by tremors and easily noticeable shaking in the extremities.
  • Hot flashes cause changes in body temperature. The patient is also likely to feel a tightness in his chest, causing shortness of breath and pain in the throat.
  • The chills are accompanied by other manifestations such as nausea and headaches.
  • Cramps can affect the abdominal area or even the extremities.
  • Dizziness can cause you to pass out or feel light-headed. Also, in other cases patients experience a tingling or numbness sensation.
  • In the most severe cases , a short-term disconnection from reality or depersonalization is observed .

What are your causes?

There are several hypotheses that try to explain the origin of panic attacks, all of them have the same level of credibility because they can be applied to certain cases. In some patients it may be a genetic problem, this means that there is a hereditary factor that has made them prone to developing this condition.

It should also be considered that some people are more sensitive to reacting negatively to stress . Considering that the current pace of life generates a high level of stress, some people are more prone to develop negative emotions. They are the point of origin for experiencing panic attacks in stressful situations.

In some cases it is observed that patients present particular problems in certain areas of the brain organ. This means that the correct functioning of this organ has been affected by various physiological problems. Consequently, when the problem is not attacked in a timely manner, the attacks could increase in intensity and duration.

Some research suggests that in some patients past trauma is responsible for the natural triggering of panic attacks.

Considering that naturally the human being is able to react to danger by fighting or fleeing , it is very likely that panic attacks are an ineffective resource to try to face these situations. The body reacts instinctively by making changes in heart rate and breathing, however this can be negative when there is no control.

As a percentage, it is observed that most of these cases are identified in adolescents and also in young adults. It is also mostly middle-aged women, in men it is a rare condition. Some risk factors should be considered such as family history, the level of daily stress in personal life, experiencing traumatic events and even a history related to abuse and maltreatment.

How to end panic attacks? 

Psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy generally provide good short-term results that last long-term. This alternative is usually used as the first option because it usually adapts perfectly to most cases. Patients eventually understand what triggers panic attacks and other associated disorders. They also learn different techniques and use various resources to help them stay in control.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating and physical activity is very important. Also the implementation of regular social activities can contribute to a stable mental state of the patient. The combination of all these elements will help the symptoms of panic attacks to decrease over time.

Regarding the use of medications, it is likely to be the best resource to reduce symptoms in certain cases. It is especially useful when the patient also experiences symptoms associated with depression. They are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and mainly benzodiazepines.

Certain lifestyle changes can greatly improve control over symptoms. In some patients it is helpful to stop consuming alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine; This is because they are sensitive to its effects. Also putting into practice relaxation techniques will help to control stress, examples of this type are deep breathing and muscle relaxation. It is important not to forget about rest, ensuring that you get enough sleep.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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