Panic attacks are episodes where intense emotional anxiety triggers a physical reaction. These reactions may come on quickly, peak, and then subside within a few minutes or hours. Panic attacks may arise in children and adults.
Causes for panic attacks vary from person to person. Some causes for panic attacks may be out of the control of a panic attack sufferer. Some panic disorders may be hereditary passed down while other triggers may be biologically related such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (ODD), hypoglycemia, or hypothyroidism. Phobias also may contribute to anxiety that triggers panic attack. These phobias may be from childhood which causes a problem when trying to suppress panic attack triggers. Childhood physical or sexual abuse also may contribute to the fear and stress that trigger a panic attack.
Other causes for panic attacks may be short term and induced by environmental or situation-ally emotional events. Causes such as: medications, alcohol or drug withdrawal, personal tragedy or loss, or overly stressful situations can create enough fear or stress that a panic attack ensues.
Some of the symptoms of a panic attack may present themselves as much more serious conditions, and first time sufferers may call for medical help because they think that they are experiencing a heart attack or stroke. Symptoms of panic attacks include many of the following: rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, nausea, sweating, hyperventilation, chills, trembling, and trouble swallowing.
The majority of the population experience one or two panic attacks in their life; however, when panic attacks are recurrent or frequent, a patient may be diagnosed with panic disorder. Panic disorders are different from other anxiety disorders in that panic disorders are typically unprovoked and come on very suddenly. Calming a panic attack could be as simple as trying to control the breathing pattern. Diverting your mind is another way to calm the fear or panic that may have triggered the attack. Using positive talk such as “I am okay, and I can get through this,” may make it easier to lower the heart rate.
Recurrent panic attacks when left untreated may lead to more serious social and emotional issues such as substance abuse, depression, problems at work or school, and development of specific phobias. It is important to see a physician and bring up the symptoms and type of panic attack you experienced.