All age groups experience panic attacks, including children, teenagers, and the elderly. In fact, it’s thought that everyone has or will experience at least two panic attacks in their lifetime. Those who have panic disorder experience a great deal more.
Panic or anxiety attacks are moments of intense fear accompanied by four or more physical or psychological symptoms. They can last from minutes to hours, but usually begin and end abruptly within 5-15 minutes. They should not cause physical harm, but are incredibly distressing – in many cases, sufferers call emergency services mistaking the symptoms for a heart attack.
Panic disorder is often co-occurs with one or many other disorders, such as Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Phobias.
Panic Attack Symptoms
During a panic attack, sufferers feel as if they are in danger or may experience a feeling or unreality (detachment from the rest of the world).
Physical symptoms include:
- Paleness or flushing
- Feeling cold
- Racing heartbeat
- Heart palpitations
- Dry mouth
- Shooting pains in the chest, neck, or shoulder
- Tunnel vision
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of choking or being smothered
And are usually accompanied by psychological symptoms, including:
- Emotional upset
- Fearful thoughts
- Fight or flight response
- Depersonalization (feeling detached from reality, separate from one-self, separate from normal emotions)
- Derealization (feeling unreal, in a dream-like state)
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, unsteadiness
- Emotional distress
If you experience regular panic attacks, you may have panic disorder.
Managing Panic Attacks till you get help
It’s always important to rule out physical illness when dealing with panic attacks;
If doctors conclude that the panic attacks are indeed panic attacks, a course of therapy will help understand the underlying issues, identify triggers, and work to improve psychological reactions to those stressors and eventually resolving the problem.
When having a panic attack, there are a few things that you can do to try to shorten the episode or reduce the intensity:
•Control your breathing; breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly to prevent hyperventilation, some people breath in and out from a paper bag.
•Practice ‘grounding’ to make sure things feel more real; touch things that feel tangible or even things that cause slight discomfort (such as an ice cube) to move focus to your body
Treating Panic Attacks
Panic attacks accompany a number of phobias, Agoraphobia, GAD, OCD and PTSD.
Our unique AES program is the ultimate recovery tool. Its straightforward, easy to implement and understand. It is also available here to purchase and use as a self help program with support.
CBT is another option as we are CBT specialists, We can discuss your options, either way we will help you recover as long as you follow what we tell you, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t make a full recovery.
Like all anxiety disorders, Panic Disorder is fully resolvable with the right help.