Panic Attacks Information
Panic attacks consist of sudden and unexpected bouts of fear or anxiety about a given situation. Symptoms include rapid breathing, increased heart rate, chills, sweating, and stomach upset to name a few. They come on without warning, and can be caused by a specific circumstance, such as flying, or can be more generalized and unknown in origin. These triggers vary widely, as do the symptoms. A common thought of sufferers is that they are dying or having a heart attack, and many seek treatment thinking they are having an emergency medical issue. Initially, people do not understand what is going on, so in their minds they really are in crisis. Acknowledging you are having a panic attack is an important step in helping make them stop.
There are several treatments available to treat panic attacks, but most people who suffer are not aware of it, so they do not seek treatment. Behavioral therapy is geared to change or eliminate how one responds to an anxiety-producing situation. This therapy often tries to expose the sufferer to controlled stimulus in an attempt to teach them how to react. They expose the sufferer to real life situations and teach them how to respond. Cognitive therapies concentrate on the internal thought processes that bring about the unwanted behaviors. This method treats the dysfunctional thinking errors. A combination of these two therapies form what is known as cognitive behavioral therapy, as the name suggests. This is currently the preferred form of therapy to treat panic attacks, as it attempts to treat the reasons for certain behaviors and the behaviors themselves.
Medication is another form of treatment. There are dozens of drugs typically used to treat depression and anxiety which also work to help panic attacks. There are different classes of drugs that work differently within the body. SSRI’effect how the brain transmits electrical impulses, typically take a moderately long period of time to work, and need to be monitored and adjusted as needed. Another class of drugs, the benzodiazepines, treat anxiety more quickly, but there is concern over their use in the long term due to their addictive nature.
Panic attacks are a symptom or sub-type of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorder is a term to describe a wide variety of conditions which result in abnormal fear or anxieties. Some studies indicate that up to 18% of Americans have some sort of anxiety disorder to one degree or another. Social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder are common examples of other anxiety disorders. Without proper treatment, people can suffer from them their entire lives, often times to the point of them being debilitating. Recognizing panic attacks, or any anxiety disorders, is a crucial step in getting treatment. Modern treatment methods are safe and effective, and are becoming more and more commonplace as our understanding of these conditions increases.
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