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Panic Attack: Symptoms, Causes
The symptoms of a panic attack often strike suddenly. Sufferers have explained a panic attack to be a sudden feeling of fear, where their heart pounds, chest cramps up and breathing normally becomes difficult. An attack can often last a few minutes. Some people may suffer from panic attacks more than once, often, for no reason at all.
What are panic attacks?
As described in the opening paragraph, a panic attack can appear suddenly, and often for no reason. They are often feelings of intense fear and terror. Some of the common symptoms experienced during a panic attack, include chest pains, heart palpitations, hot flushes, chills, fear and tingling or numbness in the fingertips.
Other common symptoms include:
The symptoms of a panic attack are often very closely related to those of a heart attack. It has been reported that people who are taken to hospital for what they think is a heart attack, are often admitted as panic attack patients.
Panic attacks can strike once or twice in a lifetime, however, frequent attacks for no apparent reason would be considered as a Panic Disorder rather than an attack, and specific medical attention would be required. Even if you experience a panic attack once in your life, you should consider mentioning it to your doctor, who will be able to let you know the severity of your attack.
Panic attacks could affect just about anyone, just about anywhere. Common places for attacks include at shopping malls and at social gatherings. However, panic attacks can strike even whilst you are asleep.
After experiencing a panic attack, sufferers often associate their attack with a specific place or situation and can actually develop a phobia about being in that place or situation. So, they naturally avoid those places or situations in the fear of going through another attack.
A very common type of panic disorder is known as agoraphobia. Translated from the Greek word agora meaning market and phobos meaning fear, sufferers of agoraphobia commonly avoid busy places (such as shopping malls and markets) in the fear that they may get trapped inside.
Agoraphobic attacks may be triggered by crowds, travelling and wide, open spaces and make sufferers feel as though they are unsafe in unfamiliar environments. Sufferers are also embarrassed by their disorder, that they will get an attack and embarrass themselves.
Causes of panic attacks
Although the exact causes of panic attacks are not clear, there does seem to be a genetic link. Although you may never get a panic attack, if say, your grandfather has had them, you are still at an increased risk for developing them, as opposed to someone who has no family history of panic attacks.
Panic attacks commonly strike when you are experiencing life changing alterations. For example, moving into a new house, getting married or changing careers could all be life altering changes that could bring on a panic attack.
Treating panic attacks
If you have only experienced one panic attack, there may be no reason to get alarmed. However, it is advisable to seek medical advice, especially if the attack occurred spontaneously. If you were in a stressful situation and feared losing your life, a panic attack could be a common experience.
If you have regular episodes of panic attacks, then you might be diagnosed with having a panic disorder. One of the ways to treat a panic disorder is to undergo Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT. This type of treatment has been successful for patients suffering with panic disorders and agoraphobia.
CBT treatment is carried out by a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist. This treatment helps you to change your thinking patterns and prepare you for panic attacks. The theory is that education about your disorder can help you to learn to identify the sensations and feelings brought upon by a panic disorder. Knowing what to expect could make you feel a bit more at ease about what is going on and not let you think that you are losing your marbles.
Author: Dimi Ingle
Copyright 2008: Remedium. This article may not be copied, in whole or in part, without the written consent of Remedium.
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