A panic attack occurs when someone experiences a sudden rush of anxiety. A person’s anxiety may be related to specific objects, persons or situations. When a person finds himself in the presence of objects, persons or situations he fears, he loses grip of his logical senses and will simply seek escape and safety. This, in most cases, results in a panic attack.
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One cause of a panic attack is stress. At one point in a person’s life, he goes through some events or incidents where he has to deal with a great amount of stress. He may immediately overcome the stress of that incident but in the long run, he may develop a sense of inferiority and self-doubt that he can handle the same incident in the future. He will gradually lose confidence, and the thought of failure will continuously cloud his thinking and judgment. This frame of mind will make him fear that incident altogether. And when he finds himself in that situation again, chances are, his negativity will translate into a panic attack.
Bad habits inducing an attack
While it takes a while for a stress-related panic attack to manifest, there is what experts call the “day after effect”. These panic attacks are drug and alcohol-related. Example, habitual use of Ecstasy may cause a person to develop chronic anxiety and spontaneous attacks.
Panic attack while you sleep
When a person toss, turn, scream and struggle in his sleep, most people immediately associate it with nightmares. What they don’t know if the person could be having a panic attack. Panic attacks, occurring in sleep are called “Night Terrors”. This is different from nightmares since it happens before a person enters the REM sleep stage. Most Night Terrors are caused by an overwhelming amount of repressed stress during the day. A person may be able to manage his stress during the day, but all will eventually manifest at night when he finally puts his consciousness to rest.
A person who experiences Night Terrors is prone to develop major sleeping disorders like amnesia. If his Night Terrors are severe, there will come a time that he will fear to go to sleep at all.
Be on the lookout for these symptoms. Most of them last for 10 minutes and may recur every 20 minutes or so.
- Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Chest pains and palpitations
- Feeling of choking
- Excessive sweating, involving either the entire body or some parts only like hands, feet, armpits or groin
- Trembling and shaking
- An intense feeling of terror, doom and even death
The most common way to treat people with panic attacks is through behavior therapy and medication. They are prescribed with anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs as they undergo their regular therapy sessions.
Duration of medication varies. Some patients are prescribed with these drugs just for a couple of weeks then they complete the treatment through therapy. But those who experience chronic attacks are prescribed years of medication along with therapy. It is much advisable that medication is accompanied by therapy. If a person relies on medication alone, relapse may occur once he stops taking the drugs.
Aside from medication and therapy, there is a new alternative treatment to panic attacks. This alternative treatment promotes a natural ‘self-help’ approach wherein a panic attack sufferer learns how to focus on stopping an attack before it actually strikes. This may entail discipline, great mind control and dedication on the part of the person, but is definitely worth a try.