Panic Attacks: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Almost everyone may experience panic attacks and anxiety in his life. This condition is a natural response to stress or danger situations. If it occurs repeatedly and interferes with daily activities and even interferes with mental health, it may experience panic disorder. What exactly is a panic attack? Read more information about the symptoms, causes and treatments below.

What Are Panic Attacks?

Panic attack or panic attack is the emergence of anxiety suddenly and intensely due to the danger or an obvious cause. People who experience this condition can be very frightening and sufferers may lose control, feel they have a heart attack, and even die

Most people only experience one or two panic attacks during their lifetime, and the problem goes away by itself or when the stressful situation ends.

If anxiety repeats unexpectedly and lasts a long time with a feeling of constant fear, this possibility is called panic disorder.

Although not life threatening, this condition can be frightening and significantly disrupt the quality of life of sufferers. But proper treatment will be very effective in overcoming excessive anxiety.

Symptoms of Panic Attack

Symptoms of panic attacks tend to rarely last more than an hour, but most often last around 20 to 30 minutes. Everyone’s symptoms are different, some people may experience them several times a week, while others may be rare.

The characteristics of panic attacks from psychological include:

  • Fear
  • Feel like I’m going to die
  • Feelings separate from real experiences
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation

The characteristics of a physical panic attack include:

  • Fast and pounding heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Shaky
  • Shivering
  • Shortness of breath, choking sensation
  • Chest pain, feels like a heart attack
  • Saki head
  • Feel dizzy or faint
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Feelings of numbness, tingling, numbness

When to see a doctor?

If you have panic attack symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible. Although this condition is very uncomfortable and harmless, panic attacks are difficult to manage independently, and may worsen without treatment.

Symptoms may also be similar to symptoms of other serious health problems, such as heart attacks, so it is important to see a doctor if you are unsure what causes it.

Causes of Panic Attacks

The cause is unknown but there are a number of conditions that may be the cause, including chemical imbalances in the brain or genetic predisposition.

Here are some types that cause panic attacks:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Extreme stress for a long time
  • Heart problems
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Thyroid disease
  • Drinking excessive alcohol
  • Exposure to nicotine from smoking
  • Caffeine intake is too much
  • Side effects of medical drugs

Frequent feelings of anxiety usually indicate panic disorder or panic disorder. This condition can also occur when a person is sleeping, which causes waking up suddenly with feelings of anxiety and fear.

Adolescents and adults who experience sudden anxiety often have other mental health problems or are at high risk of developing other conditions, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, mood disorders, eating disorders, and substance use disorders.

Risk Factors for Panic Attacks

Symptoms usually begin to appear when they reach adulthood and are more common in women than men.

Several factors can increase the risk of developing panic attacks, including:

  • Family history
  • Severe stress due to death or serious illness in someone you love
  • Traumatic events, such as sexual violence or serious accidents
  • Experienced physical or sexual violence while still a minor
  • Major changes in life, such as divorce
  • Smoking or excessive caffeine intake

Panic Attack Diagnosis

Medical personnel will determine whether the patient has panic attacks, panic disorders or other conditions, such as heart or thyroid problems, with symptoms that resemble sudden anxiety.

Some methods are used to help determine the diagnosis, including:

  • Complete physical examination.
  • Blood tests to check the thyroid and other conditions and tests that may occur in the heart, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG or ECG).
  • Psychological evaluation is usually to discuss the patient’s symptoms, fears, or worries, stressful situations, relationship problems, situations that might be being avoided, and family history.

Patients can provide information for psychological assessment through a questionnaire. Patients may also be asked about alcohol consumption or use of other substances.

Treatment of Panic Attacks

There are various approaches to treatment by undergoing lifestyle changes and medical treatment. Some ways to deal with panic attacks include:

1. Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises (slow and deep breathing focus) can help regulate the rapid breathing and anxiety that are commonly experienced during panic attacks.

2. Exercise and Healthy Eating

Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet can help deal with stress, which can often trigger, or worsen feelings of panic or anxiety.

3. Psychological therapy

This method can involve thoughts, feelings, and behavior with a psychologist or other mental health professional, and includes techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or cognitive behavioral therapy.

4. Join the Supporting Community

Join a community of people who experience anxiety frequently. The benefit might be to exchange ideas about how to deal with panic attacks from each member.

5. Exercise to Control Stress and Relaxation Techniques

How to deal with panic attacks for example by yoga practice, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation (tensing one muscle at a time), and then fully releasing tension until every muscle in the body relaxes.

6. Medicines

Medications can help reduce symptoms. Several types of drugs that have been proven effective, including:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Antidepressants are usually recommended by doctors as the first choice drug for treating panic attacks. These drugs include fluoxetine, paroxetine and sertraline.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. These drugs are another class of antidepressants, including venlafaxine.
  • Benzodiazepines. This sedative is a central nervous system depressant. these drugs include alprazolam and clonazepam. Benzodiazepines are usually only used in the short term because they are very addictive. These drugs are not good for alcoholics or drug users. This drug can also interact with other drugs, causing dangerous side effects.

Complications of Panic Attacks

If not treated immediately, persistent anxiety can disrupt almost every aspect of life. Patients may be so afraid of experiencing the condition that they feel a constant fear, thus damaging the quality of life.

Complications arising from panic attacks include:

  • Develop specific phobias, such as fear of driving or leaving home
  • Frequent medical treatment for health problems and other medical conditions
  • Depression, anxiety disorders and other psychiatric disorders
  • Problems at work or school
  • Avoid social situations
  • Increased risk of suicide or suicidal thoughts
  • Drinking alcohol or other substance abuse

Prevention of Panic Attacks

There is no sure way to prevention. However, following a few of these tips can help reduce excessive anxiety.

  • Treat anxiety as soon as possible to help stop it from getting worse or becoming more frequent.
  • Stick with a treatment plan to help prevent recurrence or worsening of symptoms.
  • Have regular physical activity to help prevent anxiety.
  • Avoid intake of caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and drug abuse, which can trigger or worsen panic attacks.


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