Treatment Of Panic Attacks
Anxiety responds very well to treatment, and people with panic attacks can often greatly reduce or even resolve their symptoms with therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. With treatment, people can learn to better understand, cope with, and improve their symptoms.
Effective treatments for anxiety and panic attacks include:3
What Is Night Terror And Nightmare
Continuing further she explained what is the difference between the two. “If a person wakes up anxious, it can be night terror or nightmare. If a person is able to recollect the dream and can calm down, it can be a nightmare. However, if the person is unable to reconnect and has symptoms of anxiety it could be night terror.”
Dealing With A Panic Attack
Although a panic attack comes on suddenly, often with no prior indication that it is going to happen, its initial symptoms intensify, and it tends to reach its peak after around 10 minutes. One can begin deploying various coping strategies to reduce the severity of a panic attack as soon as one notices the first signs.
Techniques which are useful in navigating a panic attack focus on calming the mind and body. Used effectively, they can reduce the severity of a given panic attack or prevent its initial stages developing into a full-symptom panic attack. Many helpful techniques related to managing a panic attack or preventing future episodes are derived from cognitive behavioral therapy , which focuses on making changes to a personâs usual thought processes and behavior in relation to particular concepts.
Strategies for managing an oncoming panic attack include:
Relaxing the muscles
A panic attack causes oneâs muscles to tense up, so performing muscle relaxing exercises, focused on relaxing both specific muscle groups and oneâs entire body, can help calm the body during a panic attack.
Stopping all activities
There are many CBT techniques designed to help with deconstructing anxious thoughts and restoring calm during and after a panic attack. Doctors or psychotherapists will be able to recommend techniques appropriate to each person’s mental health status and the nature of their panic attack.
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Types Of Anxiety Disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, much more than the typical anxiety that most people experience in their daily lives. People may have trembling, twitching, muscle tension, nausea, irritability, poor concentration, depression, fatigue, headaches, light-headedness, breathlessness or hot flashes.
Panic Disorder: People with panic disorder have panic attacks with feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. During the attacks, individuals may feel like they can’t breathe, have lost control, are having a heart attack or even that they are dying. Physical symptoms may include chest pain, dizziness, nausea, sweating, tingling or numbness, and a racing heartbeat. Some people will have one isolated attack, while others will develop a long term panic disorder either way, there is often high anxiety between attacks because there is no way of knowing when the next one will occur. Panic disorders often begin early in adulthood. Many people with panic disorder also suffer from agoraphobia . See more on Panic Attacks.
Phobias are irrational fears. Individuals with phobias realize their fears are irrational, but thinking about or facing the feared object or situation can bring on a panic attck or severe anxiety.
What Happens In Your Brain
Scientists are still studying how panic attacks affect the brain. Itâs possible that the parts of the brain that are tied to fear become more active during an episode. One recent study found that people with panic disorder had lots of activity in a part of their brains tied to the âfight or flightâ response.
Other studies have found possible links between panic disorder and the chemicals in your brain. The condition may also be linked to an imbalance in serotonin levels, which can affect your moods.
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If You Think That You Are Having Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are not dangerous in themselves
If you are experiencing four or more of the symptoms listed by the DSM-IV for panic attacks within 10 minutes, you need to contact your doctor as soon as possible. Panic attacks are not dangerous in and of themselves, though you often feel like youre dying. But the avoidance of the situations that trigger panic attacks can very rapidly lead to a severe constriction of your life, to Panic Disorder, and to Agoraphobia. The danger is not in the panic attacks, but in what they can lead to.
Panic attacks are one of the most treatable of the Anxiety Disorders, and many times a mental health professional can help you manage them without the use of drugs. The course of treatments is often not very long, and you will have the ability to control your condition for the rest of your life.
What If I Can’t Sleep
Sometimes people find themselves in a state of worry about sleep, constantly trying to fend off, or refute, a refrain of “what if…?” questions about sleep. In response, they imagine all kinds of dire circumstances – not sleeping for 7 days in a row, going crazy, being unable to maintain their job, and so on.
That’s what arguing with “what if…?” thoughts will do for you. It gets you more embroiled in arguing with yourself. This thought about sleep is just a variation of the usual panic thoughts: “what if I have a heart attack?”, “what if I faint?”, “what if I go crazy?”, and so on.
So the challenge here is to recognize “what if I can’t sleep?” as a symptom of nervousness, nothing more or less, and to treat it that way. It’s not an important message or warning. It’s just you being nervous.
“What if I don’t sleep?”. For the most part, the answer is that I’ll get sleepy. And when I get sleepy enough, I’ll sleep. This is a self correcting problem.
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Get Up Stand Up Wake Up
If you’ve just been awakened by a nocturnal panic attack, the chances of your quickly falling asleep again are pretty low. If you want, give yourself a minute to see if you’re lucky enough for that to occur, but I wouldn’t wait any longer than that. The longer you lie there and wonder, the more panic and frustration you’ll probably experience.
So I suggest you get up and out of bed. Fully wake yourself. Splash some water on your face, have a drink of water, check on the dog, cat, or parakeet. Do a few ordinary things to help yourself wake up. A nocturnal panic attack is not the same thing as a nightmare, but you can treat it like one.
Don’t turn on the TV, start reading, or try other things in an effort to fall right back asleep. A lot of people try to distract themselves from a nocturnal attack, but I don’t put much stock in this, because distraction works best when it’s spontaneous. With a nocturnal panic attack, you’re liable to try too hard to distract yourself, and get into a struggle with your thoughts. If distraction is going to help, it should help right away. Give it a minute, at most.
How To Respond To Sleeping Panic Attacks
Sleeping panic attacks are harder to control than daytime panic attacks because there is no warning. You can’t take what you’ve learned and apply it to stop your panic attack from happening, nor can you distract yourself or prepare yourself so that the panic attack is less severe. Sleeping panic attacks hit you by complete surprise, and often occur at a point in your sleep when your disorientation prevents you from thinking critically about what’s happening.
The good news is that since many panic attacks that occur while sleeping have an underlying issue that can be addressed, you can first start combating these issues and see if it improves your long term outlook with nighttime panic disorder. For example:
Since these anxiety attacks occur at night and are generally not in your control, they are not easily preventable through a focus on identifying and avoiding triggers, which is how day-time panic attacks are often managed. Nevertheless, the above tips should help you improve your ability to control panic attacks while you look for a treatment that deals with anxiety more generally.
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When To Get Help
See a GP if you’ve been experiencing symptoms of panic disorder.
They’ll ask you to describe your symptoms, how often you get them, and how long you have had them.
They may also carry out a physical examination to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.
It can sometimes be difficult to talk about your feelings, emotions and personal life, but try not to feel anxious or embarrassed.
You may be diagnosed with panic disorder if you have regular and unexpected panic attacks followed by at least a month of continuous worry or concern about having further attacks.
Can Emotions Cause Heart Attack
heart attackheartheartheartemotioncan causeheartSomeone having a heart attack may feel:
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Always Seek Professional Advice
Always seek medical advice if you are not sure whether your symptoms, or another persons symptoms, indicate a panic attack. In an emergency, dial triple zero for an ambulance. Its important to see your doctor for a check-up to make sure that any recurring physical panic-like symptoms are not due to illnesses, including:
When Might I Have Panic Attacks
Panic attacks happen at different times for everyone. Some people have one panic attack then don’t ever experience another, or you might find that you have them regularly, or several in a short space of time. You might notice that particular places, situations or activities seem to trigger panic attacks. For example, they might happen before a stressful appointment.
Most panic attacks last between 5 to 20 minutes. They can come on very quickly. Your symptoms will usually be at their worst within 10 minutes. You might also experience symptoms of a panic attack over a longer period of time. This could be because you’re having a second panic attack, or you’re experiencing other symptoms of anxiety.
“My panic attacks seem to come out of the blue now. But in fact, they seem to be triggered mainly at night when I want to go to sleep but cannot stop my mind racing, experiencing worry and panic about anything that may be on my mind.”
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What Causes Sleeping Panic Attacks
Even though the panic attack is said to occur while you sleep, the idea that it’s a “sleeping panic attack” may be a little misleading. Its very difficult to sleep throughout the course of these panic attacks, and the actual attack usually wakes you up, causing significant fear and disorientation.
There are many possible causes of panic attacks, generally speaking. Often, panic attacks during the day are caused by an interaction between your bodily sensations and your thoughts. During the night, however, this might not necessarily be the trigger, given that youre somewhat disconnected from your bodily and mental processes. There are, however, additional issues that may affect those who suffer from nocturnal panic attacks. These issues include:
What Causes Night Time Panic Attacks
While nocturnal panic attacks can be sudden and frightening, theyre actually a common mental health condition. So what causes them?
So far, research hasnt found a single, clear-cut reason for why people experience panic attacks at night. However, we do know that the brain doesnt switch off during sleep, so its possible for any pent-up worries or anxieties to manifest in our unconscious brains, causing a nocturnal panic attack. Also, struggling with day time panic attacks makes it more likely that you will experience panic attacks at night.
Research suggests there are a number of other factors that could increase the risk of someone suffering from both day and night time panic attacks. These include:
Other Mental Health Conditions Often Accompany Anxiety
Many people experience more than one mental health disorder at once, which can increase the risk of physical health problems.
Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, and a study published in 2017 suggested that doctors screen patients with emotionally triggered asthma for panic disorder.
Using drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with depression or anxiety may increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and liver problems plus, it could make depression and anxiety symptoms worse.
The Role Of Genes In Anxiety Disorder
Just like a major heart attack, a burn is a horrible thing, says McCann. About 33% of patients who have really severe burns develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Which makes us wonder about the 66% who do not get PTSD. We think genes are a huge part of it. Were currently researching whether this same genetic vulnerability holds true for cardiac disease.
Johns Hopkins Women’s Cardiovascular Health Center
The Johns Hopkins Womens Cardiovascular Health Center provides education, comprehensive treatment and diagnostic services to prevent and manage heart disease in women.
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Dealing With The Chance Of Losing Something
Have you ever experienced that uncertainty and physical discomfort when you thought you have lost your phone? You feel how your body gets activated in a split second just with the thought of having lost your phone, then you remind yourself that you left it somewhere and the feeling seems to fade away. You probably grab your chest and exhale relieved, this is also a mini panic attack.
Moreover, this could happen with the thought of losing someone, for instance, if they break up with you or someone left without saying goodbye. You could have also felt the rush if you thought you missed your flight, your bus or a job opportunity.
Normal Anxiety Vs Panic Attacks
Anxiety can be experienced at different levels of intensity, and panic attacks represent the most extreme form of anxiety, involving severe physical discomfort and emotional distress. Panic attacks are typically short, peaking in intensity within 10 minutes and then subsiding, while normal anxiety fluctuates in intensity and can persist for hours or even days.
Normal anxiety is usually not acutely debilitating but when having a panic attack, people are unable to interact and function normally. Panic attacks tend to manifest as physical symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, and racing heart, while anxiety often manifests as worried thoughts, irritability, and feeling more restless, edgy or distracted.2
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Ways To Manage Panic Attack Symptoms
Panic attacks can be challenging to manage, especially because the instinctive responses are usually ones that worsen anxiety and make future attacks more likely. For example, canceling or changing plans, calling out of work, or going to the ER might provide temporary relief, while making the anxiety more likely to return. Even common advice like focus on your breathing or take a deep breath can draw more attention to physical symptoms, worsening them and making people more likely to believe something is medically wrong with them.
Some of the more effective methods of responding to panic attacks include:
Who Might Experience Nocturnal Panic Attacks
While they can happen to anyone , some people are more predisposed to experiencing nocturnal panic attacks, including:
- Those who suffer from PTSD-related nightmares. “Individuals with PTSD may have nightmares about their trauma these nightmares essentially replay what they endured,” which may cause them to wake up “in a frightened state as they feel like they are reliving this trauma,” explains Dr. Magavi. The nightmares could “lead to panic attacks while they are sleeping.”
- People who have general anxiety and panic disorder. “About 18 percent of panic attacks will occur during the night,” adds Dr. Dimitriu, who says that nocturnal panic attacks are “common in people who also experience daytime panic attacks.”
- Those with sleep disorders. “Sleep apnea can result in sudden awakening due to inability to breathe, which could cause sweating, palpitations, and panic attacks,” says Dr. Magavi. “Sleep-initiation and sleep-maintenance can cause panic attacks as individuals begin to experience significant anxiety when they are unable to sleep.”
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Causes & Triggers Of Panic Attacks
The most common cause of panic attacks are existing mental health conditions, especially anxiety disorders. Any anxiety disorder can cause a person to experience occasional panic attacks, even if they have not had one in the past, but conditions like PTSD and OCD can also lead to panic attacks.
People with diagnoses of social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, panic disorder, or a specific phobia are most likely to experience panic attacks as a symptom of their condition. To a lesser extent, depression and substance use disorders also are correlated with an increased likelihood of having panic attacks.5
Symptoms Of Panic Attacks
During a panic attack, you can experience physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms all at once.
If you believe youve experienced a panic attack, a mental health or medical professional can diagnose one and figure out if theres an underlying cause.
They may start by doing a physical exam or tests to rule out any physical causes, and then ask you questions about the symptoms you had.
Many mental health professionals follow the criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . According to the DSM-5, if you experience four or more panic attack symptoms below, the incident will likely be deemed a panic attack.
Potential symptoms of a panic attack include:
- heart palpitations
- chills or hot flashes
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