Key Points About Panic Disorder
- Panic disorder is an overreaction of fear and anxiety to daily life stressors.
- The reaction causes a hyperphysical response, followed by intense worry that another attack will happen soon. This can upset the ability to function normally.
- It is a common disorder and can often lead to depression.
- Panic disorders can be disabling because you become so afraid of when the next panic attack may happen that you can’t cope with regular tasks.
- Treatment involves use of anti-anxiety medicines and antidepressants along with cognitive behavioral therapy.
Why Can Fighting Excessive Worries Transform Your Life
I believe if I had addressed my anxiety sooner, it is more likely I would not have experienced any panic attacks. Thats why I decided to write about it. This has been a huge challenge but also a learning experience. Then I knew it was the time for me to help others who are going through this. Yes, you can beat anxiety before it gets harder to deal with.
For those who are having more severe anxiety symptoms, confronting your worries or fears can be a step in the right direction to change their life. This will prevent a panic attack, depression, and other mental issues.
If you can face them, your lifestyle and quality of life will improve for good. Before learning how you can beat your anxiety, first, lets explain the most common anxiety symptoms.
The Link Between Anxiety Symptoms And Depression
Many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression makes anxiety worse , its important to seek treatment for both conditions.
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What Are The Risks Of Having Anxiety Attacks
An anxiety attack is not life-threatening. See a caregiver to make sure your symptoms are caused by anxiety and not something more serious. You may develop other problems such as alcohol or drug abuse or depression if your anxiety attacks are not treated. Frequent anxiety attacks can cause many problems with your mood, work, and relationships. People who have an anxiety disorder are more likely to have thoughts of harming themselves. If you or someone you know has thoughts of hurting themselves or others, tell a caregiver right away. Treatment can help decrease the amount and severity of anxiety attacks.
During A Panic Or Anxiety Attack
The following strategies can help during an attack:
- Acknowledgment: The symptoms of a panic or anxiety attack can be extremely frightening. Acknowledging the situation and remembering that symptoms will soon pass can reduce anxiety and fear.
- Breathing techniques: Difficulty breathing is among the most common and alarming symptoms of these attacks. Learning techniques to control breathing can help during an attack.
- Relaxation techniques: Methods of relaxation, such as progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery, can reduce feelings of panic and anxiety.
- Mindfulness: Mindfulness helps people stay grounded in the present moment. It can be especially beneficial for people with anxiety, who tend to worry about perceived and potential stressors.
Medical professionals will assess a persons symptoms and plan treatment accordingly. This will typically center on therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.
When Someone Is Having A Panic Attack
Below are some tips for you or your loved one to consider during a panic attack:
- Anxiety cannot increase forever and you cannot experience peak levels of anxiety forever. Physiologically there is a point at which our anxiety cannot become any higher and our bodies will not maintain that peak level of anxiety indefinitely. At that point, there is nowhere for anxiety to go but down. It is uncomfortable to reach that peak but it is important to remember this anxiety will even out and then go down with time.
- Emotions are like a wave, they will come and they will go.
- You have experienced this before, you know what to expect, and you will be able to handle it.
- Avoidance is anxiety’s best friend. Avoidance now will mean sustained anxiety in the future.
The following websites and brochures provide useful information for helping and supporting loved ones with panic disorder:
Breathing Exercise For Panic Attacks
If youre breathing quickly during a panic attack, doing a breathing exercise can ease your other symptoms. Try this:
- breathe in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can, through your nose
- breathe out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth
- some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five on each in-breath and each out-breath
- close your eyes and focus on your breathing
You should start to feel better in a few minutes. You may feel tired afterwards.
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Panic Attacks Vs Anxiety Attacks
Charlie Health reviews the differences between a panic attacks vs anxiety attack, as well as ways to cope.
You may have heard people use the terms âpanic attackâ and âanxiety attackâ interchangeably, and that’s understandable. Both can be extremely disorientating and take a real toll on your mental health and wellbeing.
Although anxiety attack symptoms and panic attack symptoms share some similarities, itâs important to note that they are two separate conditions. Anxiety attacks tend to be less severe than panic attacks, but symptoms often last longer-potentially for days, weeks, or even months instead of minutes like with panic attacks. While panic attacks often seem to strike at random, symptoms of anxiety attacks frequently occur after a period of excessive worry or stress.
Below we break down the key differences between panic attacks and anxiety attacks, as well as the potential causes and treatments to help you prioritize your mental health.
What Is An Anxiety Attack
Anxiety attacks are a combination of physical and mental symptoms that are intense and overwhelming. The anxiety is more than just regular nervousness. The anxiety is often a feeling of immense, impending doom that makes many people feel they’re about to die, or that everything around them is breaking down.
It creates physical symptoms that are so severe they actually mimic legitimate, serious health problems.
Those that haven’t had an anxiety attack before often have no idea that what they’re experiencing is anxiety. That’s because the symptoms of anxiety attacks and panic attacks mimic extremely serious issues, such as:
- Heart attacks and heart failure.
Yet despite how intense these things can feel, anxiety attacks are not even remotely dangerous.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Panic Disorder
While many people experience just one or two panic attacks without further episodes or complicationsand theres little reason to worry if thats yousome people go on to develop panic disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by repeated panic attacks, combined with major changes in behavior or persistent anxiety over having further attacks.
You may be suffering from panic disorder if you:
- Experience frequent, unexpected panic attacks that arent tied to a specific situation
- Worry a lot about having another panic attack
- Are behaving differently because of the panic attacks, such as avoiding places where youve previously panicked
While a single panic attack may only last a few minutes, the effects of the experience can leave a lasting imprint. If you have panic disorder, the recurrent panic attacks take an emotional toll. The memory of the intense fear and terror that you felt during the attacks can negatively impact your self-confidence and cause serious disruption to your everyday life. Eventually, this leads to the following panic disorder symptoms:
Anticipatory anxiety Instead of feeling relaxed and like your normal self in between panic attacks, you feel anxious and tense. This anxiety stems from a fear of having future panic attacks. This fear of fear is present most of the time, and can be extremely disabling.
Anxiety And Panic Attacks
Although anxiety may fuel a panic attack, its a separate condition that can be gradual and chronic.
Panic attacks, by contrast, are marked by an intense and overwhelming sense of fear or dread in response to an imminent threat. Panic attacks, often brief, are brought on by the bodys fight or flight response a natural and adaptive process that helps fight off danger or run from it.
This process can be triggered any time we perceive ourselves to be in harms way and it can happen within the context of any anxiety or stress disorder.
If someone has a fear of dogs, encountering an unfamiliar dog could trigger a panic attack, Duval says. Someone who has social anxiety or worries about being judged negatively by others might have a panic attack when giving a speech or introducing themselves to new people.
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Preventing A Further Attack
It may help to:
- read a self-help book for anxiety based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy ask your GP to recommend one
- try complementary therapies such as massage and aromatherapy, or activities like yoga and pilates, to help you relax
- learn breathing techniques to help ease symptoms
- do regular physical exercise to reduce stress and tension
- avoid sugary food and drinks, caffeine and alcohol, and stop smoking, as all they can all make attacks worse
For more help, read how to deal with panic attacks.
Panic Disorder In Children
Panic disorder is more common in teenagers than in younger children.
Panic attacks can be particularly hard for children and young people to deal with. Severe panic disorder may affect their development and learning.
If your child has the signs and symptoms of panic disorder, they should see a GP.
After taking a detailed medical history the GP will carry out a thorough physical examination to rule out any physical causes for the symptoms.
They may refer your child to a specialist for further assessment and treatment. The specialist may recommend a course of CBT for your child.
Screening for other anxiety disorders may also be needed to help find the cause of your child’s panic attacks.
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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.
A Note About Sex And Gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms, male, female, or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. .
A doctor or mental health professional can diagnose a panic attack, panic disorder, or anxiety disorder.
They base their diagnoses on definitions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition .
These professionals cannot diagnose an anxiety attack because it is not a clinically defined condition in the DSM-5. They can, however, recognize the symptoms of anxiety and diagnose an anxiety disorder.
A doctor will discuss symptoms and life events to diagnose any of these conditions. They may also perform a psychological evaluation to determine which category the symptoms fall into.
It may be necessary to rule out physiological conditions that share similar symptoms.
To do this, a doctor may perform:
- a physical examination
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Tips For Helping Someone With An Anxiety Disorder:
- Make no assumptionsask the person what they need.
- Be predictabledon’t surprise the person.
- Let the person with the disorder set the pace for recovery.
- Find something positive in every small step towards recovery.
- Don’t help the person avoid their fears.
- Maintain your own life so you don’t resent the person with the disorder.
- Don’t panic when the person with the disorder panics, but realize it’s natural to be concerned with them.
- Be patient and accepting, but don’t settle for the affected person being permanently disabled.
- Say encouraging words such as: “You can do it no matter how you feel. I am proud of you. Tell me what you need now. Breathe slow and low. Stay in the present. It’s not the place that’s bothering you, it’s the thought. I know that what you are feeling is painful, but it’s not dangerous. You are courageous.”
- Avoid saying things like: “Don’t be anxious. Let’s see if you can do this. You can fight this. What should we do next? Don’t be ridculous. You have to stay. Don’t be a coward.” These phrases tend to blame the individual for the anxiety.
How Is Panic Disorder Diagnosed
Medical or mental health providers can diagnose panic disorder. Your provider may diagnose panic disorder when you have repeated panic attacks and you:
- Persistently worry about having more panic attacks or their consequences.
- Obsess about losing control during a panic attack.
- Change your behaviors to avoid situations that may trigger a panic attack.
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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:
What Do Panic Attacks Feel Like
During a panic attack, physical symptoms can build up very quickly. These can include:
- a pounding or racing heartbeat
- feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
- feeling very hot or very cold
- sweating, trembling or shaking
- pain in your chest or abdomen
- struggling to breathe or feeling like you’re choking
- feeling like your legs are shaky or are turning to jelly
- feeling disconnected from your mind, body or surroundings, which are types of dissociation.
During a panic attack you might feel very afraid that you’re:
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Is Panic Attack And Anxiety Attack The Same
Asked by: Laurianne Price
Anxiety attacks arent technically a thing, at least not according to medical terminology. Its a laypersons term for a panic attack. Panic attacks are intense attacks of fear and anxiety that may occur without warning. They often occur in response to a stressful event.
withouttend to be more intenseimpending doom, shortness of breath, chest painMajor life stress44 related questions found
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Who Does It Affect
While panic disorder can affect anyone, there are certain groups of people that it affects more often than others.
Women: Like most other anxiety disorders, women are twice as likely as men to experience panic disorder.
Young adults: Panic disorder usually appears in your mid-twenties, although it can happen at any age. Three quarters of people with panic disorder experienced the onset before the age of 33. Although it can exist in kids, it’s often not diagnosed until they’re older.
People with a chronic illness: Three quarters of people with panic disorder report having at least one other diagnosed chronic physical or mental illness like diabetes or depression.
Family history: People with a family history of anxiety or depression are at greater risk for developing panic disorder.
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What Causes Panic Disorder
Doctors donât know exactly what causes panic disorder, but one possibility is that the brains of people who have it may be especially sensitive in responding to fear. There’s a link between panic attacks and phobias, like school phobia or claustrophobia. Thereâs also a theory that panic disorder may come from an oversensitivity to carbon dioxide, which makes your brain think you’re suffocating.
A few things can make you more likely to have panic disorder:
- Someone in your family has it
- High levels of stress
- Frequent negative feelings or trouble dealing with negative emotions
Some believe there are ties between panic attacks and:
Most often, panic attacks come “out of the blue.” One may even begin while you’re sleeping. Using drugs or alcohol to try to deal with panic disorder can make the symptoms worse. Attacks may come after the use of mind-altering drugs. And some medications can cause panic attacks, including some antidepressants.
Panic disorder may start after:
- A serious illness or accident
- The death of a close friend
- The birth of a baby
People with this disorder often also have major depression, although there is no evidence that one condition causes the other. If you’re 40 or older and have panic disorder, you may have depression or another hidden medical condition. Talk to your doctor to find out what’s going on.