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Understanding And Treating Panic Attacks

understanding and treating panic attacks

Anyone who has ever experienced a panic attack is not likely to forget it soon.  A panic attack will strike without warning, causing intense feelings of panic and fear for no apparent reason.  Although panic attacks were once thought to have been brought on my stress or were simply a nervous reaction, they are now recognized as being a medical condition.  Most people only have one or two panic attacks during their entire lifetime, but those who suffer from repeated panic attacks are said to be suffering from panic disorder.  The fear of panic attacks can eventually lead to avoidance of social situations and isolation.  Often those who experience panic attacks will stop driving, begin to abuse alcohol or other substances, or become depressed.

Symptoms Of A Panic Attack

One of the first symptoms of a panic attack is a feeling that there is doom impending.  You may even fear that you are going to die.  There will often be no actual trigger to the attack – it just happens without warning.  Panic attacks can awaken you from a sound sleep or strike while you’re driving or having dinner at your favorite restaurant.  The very unpredictability of the attack is part of what makes them so awful

The heart beat will begin to accelerate and there may even be chest pains.  Very often the victim will alternate between feeling hot and cold and will experience shortness of breath.  Hyperventilation is a very real possibility.  Most panic attacks have a duration of about half an hour, with the worst of the attack happening about ten minutes into the attack.   One of the worst things about having a panic attack is fear that the episode will be repeated at some time in the future.

Treatment For Panic Attacks

Many people will visit their doctor when they begin experiencing panic attacks, and this is a good idea just in case there is a physical problem causing the attacks.  Various medications, such as tranquilizers are often prescribed for these attacks, but these attacks can usually be managed by the victim if they take some time and effort to stop the attacks before they really take hold. Although a doctor is needed ultimately during an attack, make sure to have a first aid kit readily available for any injury that could occur during an attack. It is common to fall or collapse during a panic attack so having bandages and cold packs are readily available. We offer several first aid kits that include these and other important aid supplies.

When you feel a panic attack starting, try to distract yourself by doing something different.  When in your home and the feeling begins, turn on the radio or CD player and listen to music.  If you are driving when your heart beat starts becoming fast, pull off and go into a café or restaurant for a cup of tea or coffee – treat yourself to a pastry, too.  A night time panic attack is probably one of the worst possible, as it pulls you up out of a sound sleep into a waking nightmare.  Get out of bed, go into the living room, turn on the lights and watch television.  If you are hyperventilating, breathe into a paper bag to for several seconds (15 seconds into the bag, 10 seconds without the bag). 

The main thing to remember is that the more you take positive steps to stop your panic attacks, the more likely it is that you will be able to put them behind you.