What is a Panic Attack?

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When you think of anxiety, most people tend to say it is a feeling of worry or nervousness. Whether that feeling is surrounding the future, or for any particular event in one’s life. We’ve all felt anxious at some point in our lives. However, some people suffer from a chronic feeling of worry, or nervousness, and coupled with those feelings are intense, and unprovoked physical symptoms. This can be defined as some sort of anxiety or panic disorder. It is here where you may ask, what is a panic attack?

Defining a Panic Attack

According to the Mayo Clinic, a panic attack is defined as “a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions”. Now these episodes generally have no cause, and are due to no real threat of danger. When you are going through one of these panic attacks, it may feel as though you are having a heart attack, or it may even feel as though you are dying. For most, these attacks are uncommon, and occur very few times in their life. For others, these panic attacks are recurring, and unexpected or unprovoked. These people would most likely be considered to have a panic disorder.

Signs and Symptoms Of A Panic Attack

Along with the feelings or uncontrollable fear and uncertainty, there are the physical reactions that are triggered by a panic attack. These physical reactions can include, but are not limited to things like diarrhea, nausea, feeling lightheaded or dizzy, the inability to concentrate, or even sweating. Some of the scarier symptoms of one of these attacks include chest pains, rapid heart rate, and an irrational sense of impending doom or even death.

 These physical symptoms and even the nervousness and worry are also indicative of an anxiety attack. There is a difference between the two though. An anxiety attack is a reaction to some perceived threat or life event and usually goes away once the stressful event is over, while a panic attack sometimes has cause or reason to occur. There is also a difference between the intensity and length of these feelings.

Risk Factors and Complications of Panic Attacks

It is said that women are affected more than men by panic disorders, and symptoms usually begin to appear in late teenage to early adult years. There is no scientific reason as to why they start or what causes them, but some believe that genetics, traumas, and life stressors are some of the factors that cause panic attacks to occur. 

Suffering from panic disorder can cause other life-altering reactions as well. The thought of having another panic attack can lead to you avoiding places and social situations out of fear. These panic attacks can also lead to other phobias, such as driving or even a fear of leaving home. There is also the risk of self medicating through drugs or alcohol, or thoughts of suicide and suicidal tendencies. All of these are just as life-altering as the panic attacks themselves, and are best treated by and through the help of professionals.

Should You Seek Help?

There is no proven way to prevent a panic attack from happening. But the good news is there are ways to manage them. The symptoms and the occurrence of the attacks cannot be managed alone. Seeking professional help can help to manage your symptoms and keep them from getting worse. You can also learn to get through the attack and know that you’re going to be okay. It is a scary feeling when one of these panic attacks occur and you feel as though your chest is tight, or you cannot breathe. Having a professional guide you through the feelings and help you reach the safe space afterwards is beneficial to those going through the attack.

While panic attacks are not dangerous, it is best to seek professional help as soon as you can. The symptoms can be debilitating, and the fear of experiencing another panic attack can keep you from living the life you want and deserve to live. The after effects of a panic attack can cause you to feel tired, or worn out after the attack passes, and those feelings will go away. But, the fear of having another is a longer lasting effect of panic disorder. Don’t allow those fears, and the uncertainty of when one will occur again, keep you from living your life. There is help out there to navigate through those fears.

Reach Out for Help

If you or a loved one suffer from panic attacks or panic disorders, don’t hesitate to reach out and seek help. You don’t have to suffer through them alone with no guidance, or solution. There is help. At The Healing Center, Cherry Hill, we address underlying causes of these panic attacks and try to help prevent future attacks from occurring. Our team of professionals are here to help you navigate your way through this and know that there are ways to combat the fears and the physical symptoms. Having these tools at your disposal will help you through any future panic attacks, and help your fears as they are occurring. Reach out to our admissions team, and begin your journey to not allowing these panic attacks to keep you from living your life!