Panic attacks are characterized by brief attacks of intense fear or apprehension that may last from minutes to a period of several hours. Physical manifestations of the sickness include dizziness, difficulty in breathing, and heart palpitations. Initial onset of panic attacks may cause people to think that they are having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. Some people may also suffer from hyperventilation, tunnel vision and numbness when having a panic attack.
The disorder may be caused by several factors. They can be environmental or biological. Other kinds of disorders like phobias may also cause panic attacks. Significant loss of a person or life changing situations and avoidance of panic-provoking situations are also cause of panic attacks. Other reasons for a person to have a panic attack include chronic conditions and withdrawal from certain drugs.
KINDS OF PANIC ATTACKS
Agoraphobia is characterized by fear of being trapped in a certain situation or environment. Panic attacks are usually associated with people with agoraphobia because these people are constantly looking for the door or any exit routes that can save them from their entrapment. Frequent occurrence of panic attacks on people with agoraphobia can be detrimental to them if they are not addressed right away.
Panic disorders are panic attacks that occur suddenly and unannounced. These can be made graver by certain situations or places that a person wants to avoid.
Experimentally induced panic attacks are prompted inside laboratory conditions for research purposes.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
Symptoms of panic attacks include palpitations, sweating, chest pain, dizziness, chills, self-detachment, and shortness of breath and fear of losing control. Treatment includes therapies and taking medications. Examples of the treatments used in treating panic attacks are cognitive behavioral therapy, breathing exercises, change in diet and exercise.
Breathing exercises are used to eliminate hyperventilation that is associated with the onset of panic attacks. It is recommended to use the stomach to inhale air for 5 seconds. Then after holding the breath for 2 seconds, slowly exhale for a period of 5 seconds. The aim of the exercise is to relax the heart rate while the person is focused on his breathing.
Physical exercise on the other hand has been shown to be effective in counteracting panic episodes. It is supported by scientific evidence showing that the relief brought about by aerobic exercises is correlated to the release of endorphins and decrease in cortisol production in the body.