Diagnoses Related To Panic Attack
For some individuals, experiencing a panic attack may be an indication that they have an ongoing mental health condition.
According to the DSM-5 Manual, the principal conditions which may be diagnosed after experiencing a panic attack, include:
Recurrent panic attacks that are not related to another condition will be diagnosed as panic disorder, which is treatable with psychotherapy and/or anxiolytic medications.
To be diagnosed with panic disorder, an individual must have experienced frequent, full-symptom panic attacks, which are not caused by a concurrent health condition or chemically induced. The extent to which oneâs panic attacks impact oneâs daily life between episodes will also be considered â most people with panic disorder present with debilitating anxiety about the possibility of future panic attacks.
People with panic disorder are likely to experience panic attacks in situations which replicate or resemble the circumstances of a previous panic attack, such as being in a crowd or before public speaking. This can have a negative impact on a personâs day-to-day routine, as many people choose to avoid situations which may provoke a panic attack, thereby experiencing a diminished quality of life.
Panic disorder usually occurs concurrently with other anxiety disorders.It is fairly rare for panic disorder to occur on its own. Conditions which most commonly co-occur with panic disorder include:
- Other anxiety disorders, in particular agoraphobia
How To Help Someone Who Is Having A Panic Attack
- Stay with the person
If you can, stay with the person during their panic attack. Just by you being there, you can help them to calm down and remind them that help is available. It is okay if you are finding it overwhelming. You can find another friend, family member or teacher they trust to support your friend and you.
- Talk to them and encourage them
You can chat to the person about how they are feeling or anything that they like, such as favourite Netflix shows or their hobbies. This can distract them from their anxious thoughts, helping them to feel calm and to slow down their breathing. They might find it difficult to talk and might want to focus on their breath – thats okay and its important to respect their boundaries and how they are feeling.
- Check in with your friend
Even though your friend may no longer be panicking, they can still feel anxious or on edge afterwards. You can check in with them to see how they are feeling. This will remind them that they are not alone and you are there for them.
Talk about how you can support themIf your friend feels comfortable to, you can suggest talking about how you can support them in the future. This can be things like helping them find a safe space or finding breathing exercises that can help in the moment. This will help them feel better about coping with panic attacks.
Anxious Trends During Childhood
A second reason why people develop panic attacks is that as children, they may have grown up in an atmosphere which, for one reason or another, failed to teach them that the world was “their oyster”, a safe place in which they could happily pursue their own enjoyment. Maybe there was an early death in the family, severe illness, or some other serious problem like alcoholism or divorce. Maybe the parents were themselves anxious and over protective, perhaps in response to their own anxiety disorder. Perhaps the child learned to spend too much time and effort taking care of others, trying too hard to please others, and feeling responsible for the happiness of others.
Don’t Miss: Does Celine Dion Have An Eating Disorder
What Are Anxiety Attacks
Anxiety attack is not an official clinical term. The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , a book the vast majority of mental health professionals abide by, does not list it. Instead, the term anxiety attack is a colloquial phrase coined by people who have anxiety.
The term anxiety attack is used to describe intense or extended periods of anxiety. An attack is more overwhelming and intense than just having anxiety. But its not as severe as a panic attack. According to her book Stop Anxiety from Stopping You, Dr. Helen Odessky notes that the term anxiety attack became more common because people started feeling like anxiety was interrupting their life. As more and more clients began using it in therapy, mental health professionals began forming a more detailed definition.
Still, while the distinction between anxiety vs. panic attacks has become clearer over time, there isnt yet an official definition for an anxiety attack.
Symptoms Of Panic Attacks
Despite being valid fearsthe panic you feel at missing the bus to school, or realizing that your wallet is back home while dining out, does not automatically translate into a panic attack.
A panic attack is described as an intense feeling of fear or discomfort, which may occur without any known cause of danger. These attacks can affect anyone from children and teenagers to grown adults. Regardless of who is going through the crippling fear of an attack, however, these feelings typically do not last longer than a few minutes.
Within that timeframe, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders notes that the following symptoms may be observed:
- Heart palpitations or a quickened heart rate
- Chills or hot flashes
- Fear of dying
Despite feeling intense and worrying, the symptoms of a panic attack will usually peter out after minutes. However, there are instances where panic attacks may occur several times a day, or as infrequently as a few attacks a year.
Understandably, these symptomsespecially when unexpected, can cause a persistent fear of repeat attacks, leading to a panic disorder.
You May Like: Gossip Girl Blair Bulimia
What Causes Someone To Have Panic Attacks
Researchers dont know exactly what causes panic disorder or panic attacks but believe multiple factors, including genetics and major stress, play a role. Some people have a temperament that makes them more sensitive to stress, which can be a factor. That may also be changes in parts of your brain that impact its function.
People usually start to experience panic attack symptoms in their late teens or early adult years, and women experience them more than men.
Risk factors that could increase your risk for symptoms of panic disorder include significant life stress, a family history of panic disorder, or a traumatic event.
Keep Lavender On Hand
Lavender is a traditional remedy that many people use to reduce stress and help them relax.
Research suggests it has a calming effect but doesnt lead to dependence or cause withdrawal symptoms. Using products that contain diluted lavender oil may help reduce or manage symptoms of anxiety.
However, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate essential oils, and strengths and ingredients vary widely.
If you use lavender essential oil, make sure you:
- get your oil from a reputable source, such as a pharmacy
- follow the instructions for use
- avoid applying concentrated oil directly to the skin
- avoid using lavender with benzodiazepines because the combination can cause intense drowsiness
Also Check: Topamax Bpd
What Other Behaviours Are Related To Panic Disorder
Adults with panic disorder will often change their behaviour to feel safer and try to prevent future panic attacks. Examples include:
- Carrying items such as medication, water or a cell phone
- Having a companion accompany them places
- Avoiding physical activities that might trigger panic-like feelings
- Avoiding certain foods or beverages because they might trigger panic-like symptoms
- Sitting near exits or bathrooms
Panic Attacks Do Not Always Have Further Health Implications
Experiencing a panic attack is inherently distressing for the individual involved, especially if they were previously unaware of being affected by any form of anxiety. The possibility of experiencing a future panic attack â particularly if one encounters scenarios similar to the circumstances of the initial attack â is a common concern, but feeling this way does not necessarily mean that one will experience future panic attacks.
Furthermore, it is possible to experience one or more panic attacks without being affected by a related condition, such as anxiety disorder or panic disorder. Many people, who do not normally have anxiety or depressive disorders, experience one or more panic attacks in relation to a specific stressor or over the course of a lifetime.
Don’t Miss: Phobia Medical Definition
Who Gets Panic Attacks
At least 6 million Americans suffer from panic attacks and panic disorder both conditions classified as anxiety disorders. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , about 2-3% of Americans experience panic disorder in a given year and it is twice as common in women as in men. Panic disorder typically affects individuals when theyre in their 20s but is also seen in young children, adolescents, and older adults.
Remember You Cant Overdose On Weed Or Die From A Panic Attack
If youve ingested or smoked too much weed, things can get scary fast.
Just like with any panic attack, the most important first step is to remember that you cant die from this. You cant overdose on weed or die from a panic attack. Youre going to be uncomfortable for a little while, and then its going to pass.
The only way youre going to get hurt from being high is if you go out of your way to do something stupid like driving under the influence.
Just try and take it easy, and remember that your life is not in actual danger here, youre just having a panic attack that may be a little bit scarier than usual.
Recommended Reading: What Does Phobic Mean
What Are The Complications Of Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are highly treatable. Unfortunately, many people put off seeking help because theyre embarrassed. Untreated panic attacks or panic disorder can interfere with your ability to enjoy life. You may develop:
- Anticipatory anxiety: The possibility of having a panic attack triggers extreme anxiety.
- Phobias: A phobia is an extreme, unreasonable fear of something specific. For instance, acrophobia is a fear of heights, while claustrophobia is a fear of enclosed spaces.
- Agoraphobia: Approximately two-thirds of people with panic disorder develop agoraphobia. This anxiety disorder makes you afraid to be in places or situations where a panic attack might happen. The fear can become so extreme that you become too afraid to leave your house.
How Do I Treat And Prevent Panic Attacks
There are self-help, psychological and medical options available to treat and avoid panic attacks. Panic is associated with anxiety and the treatments are similar. During a panic attack:
- Avoid self-talk that focuses your attention on your symptoms dont tell yourself to stop panicking!
- Reassure yourself that the symptoms of a panic attack are uncomfortable but not life threatening.
- Focus your attention on something outside your own body and symptoms. For example, try to recall the words to your favourite song or concentrate on the sights and sounds around you.
- Fleeing from the situation will confirm your fear that your panic symptoms are unbearable. Try to sit and allow the symptoms to pass and get confidence in your ability to cope.
You May Like: Fear Conditioning Definition
Strategies To Bring Back Calm
If you live with panic attacks, there are some specific strategies you can use to support yourself during a panic attack and soothe the intense physical symptoms.
Go to a quiet spot
It can be helpful to get away from sensory information like very loud or intense conversations or bright, noisy places. Find a quieter space where you can focus on calming yourself, without too many sensory inputs.
It is easier to manage a panic attack once you name it and can identify that the symptoms are related to anxiety, not health conditions.
Focus on grounding
Grounding is a way of calming yourself and involves focusing on the present moment and on the immediate messages being received from your senses.
It’s an excellent way of managing the impact of difficult experiences such as panic. It allows you to manage your focus and gives your brain something to think about instead of continuing to panic.
Using your senses can be excellent for keeping yourself in the present moment. This could involve smelling some lavender oil, wrapping yourself in a weighted blanket or lying flat on a cold floor.
Another technique involves focusing on your five senses and saying either to yourself or out loud five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can smell, two things you can feel and one thing you can taste.
Manage your breathing
Often, panic attacks bring short and shallow breathing that can lead to hyperventilation and make panic symptoms worse.
Watch the self-talk
Focus On Your Senses And Surroundings
When you are having a panic attack, you can feel out of touch with things around you. One way you can feel back in touch with your surroundings is by picking out five things you can see, hear, taste, touch, or smell. This is called a grounding exercise. You can pick a couple for each sense, or focus on one sense, like finding five things that you can see. This can help you feel connected with your surroundings and in control.
Also Check: Does Dehydration Cause Panic Attacks
How To Cope With An Anxiety Attack
Lets start with the immediate, quick hacks to help you freeze your anxiety attack once it kicks into your life. No matter how scared or helpless you feel at that moment, try to do the following things:
Do a Simple Stretch
When you have an attack, your breath is too short and shallow, meaning it worsens further symptoms. Once you feel the panic stand up and start doing some simple stretching. If you manage to squeeze in a yawn, that will help you tame the attack even faster. Stretching and yawning instantly helps you relieve muscle tension and interrupt the vicious cycle that is just about to roll in full strength.
Focus on your breathing.
No need to master the art of meditation for this. Simply inhale for three counts and exhale for five. Repeat the exercise for as long as you need to.
Drink a glass of ice-cold water.
To regulate your bodys temperature and reduce the escalating cycle of panic, slowly drink a glass of icy water. Take small sips and focus on every gulp you make. While drinking, imagine how your body and mind is cooling down.
Focus on using peripheral vision
To activate your parasympathetic nervous system, use this simple meditation technique: focus your gaze on an imaginary point in front of you relax your focus and use your peripheral vision, as if you are trying to take in everything around you with soft focus. It signals to your brain to relax. The more you practice this technique the faster it will help you to relax in any situation.
Anxiety Attack Vs Panic Attack: Whats The Difference
Many people use the terms anxiety attack and panic attack interchangeable, but in reality, they represent two different experiences. The DSM-5 uses the term panic attack to describe the hallmark features of panic disorder or panic attacks that occur as a result of another mental disorder. To be considered a panic attack, four or more of the symptoms outlined in the DSM-5 must be present.
In contrast, the term anxiety attack is not a specifier outlined in the DSM-5. Rather, anxiety is used to describe a core feature of multiple different anxiety disorders. The culmination of symptoms that result from being in a state of anxietysuch as restlessness, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, and difficulty concentratingmay feel like an attack, but are generally less intense than those experienced at the height of a panic attack.
Given that anxiety attacks arent specifically outlined as a diagnosis in the DSM-5, the usage of the word is open to interpretation and different individuals may use it in varying ways and circumstances. For one person, an anxiety attack might be overthinking about a specific worry to the extent that they are unable to concentrate on anything else for another, anxiety attack might refer to sweating and shortness of breath when faced with a certain situation.
You May Like: Simple Phobia Definition
Risk Factors For Experiencing A Panic Attack
Although anyone may be affected by a panic attack, a range of factors may increase the likelihood for certain individuals. People who have a disorder that leads to elevated levels of anxiety are more likely to experience a panic attack. This includes:
- Generalized anxiety disorder . A form of chronic anxiety that is often unrelated to a particular cause.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder . In the case of OCD, a person experiences recurrent unwanted thoughts and compulsive behaviors. This can lead to panic attacks in some people, although, according to DSM-5 criteria, OCD is no longer listed as anxiety disorder.
- Post traumatic stress disorder . Although PTSD is a trauma and stressor-related disorder rather than an anxiety disorder, panic attacks may relate to anxiety from PTSD, that develops after first or second-hand exposure to a traumatic event.
- Social phobia. In people with social phobia, everyday situations regularly cause debilitating levels of anxiety.
Other mental health conditions, such as depression, can also cause the anxious kinds of thinking that may precipitate a panic attack.
Other factors, which increase oneâs likelihood of experiencing a panic attack, include:
Conditions which increase the likelihood of experiencing a panic attack include:
What Helps To Manage Panic Attacks
Panic attacks can be frightening, but there are things you can do to help yourself cope. It could help to print off these tips, or write them down, and keep them somewhere easy to find.
During a panic attack:
- Focus on your breathing. It can help to concentrate on breathing slowly in and out while counting to five.
- Stamp on the spot. Some people find this helps control their breathing.
- Focus on your senses. For example, taste mint-flavoured sweets or gum, or touch or cuddle something soft.
- Try grounding techniques. Grounding techniques can help you feel more in control. They’re especially useful if you experience dissociation during panic attacks. See our page on self-care for dissociation for more information on grounding techniques.
After a panic attack:
- Think about self-care. It’s important to pay attention to what your body needs after you’ve had a panic attack. For example, you might need to rest somewhere quietly, or eat or drink something.
- Tell someone you trust. If you feel able to, it could help to let someone know you’ve had a panic attack. It could be particularly helpful to mention how they might notice if you’re having another one, and how you’d like them to help you.
Read Also: Prodromal Stage Of Schizophrenia