How Do You Treat A Panic Attack
With counselling and psychotherapy, panic attack sufferers can start to understand and manage their symptoms and eventually overcome attacks and reduce their frequencies. Treatment for panic attacks will also help to develop new skills needed for coping successfully with future attacks.
Most therapists will recommend cognitive behavioural therapy as one of the most effective treatments for panic attacks and panic disorder. The therapy focuses on the thinking and behavioural patterns that bring on an attack and works on reshaping these unhelpful thought patterns. Relaxation therapy and exposure therapy may also be used.
For therapy that goes deeper into the root of the problem, including childhood experiences, past relationships and personal difficulties, psychotherapy is an extremely useful tool as it can remove any underlying issues that may trigger panic attacks.
In addition to professional therapy, its a good idea to have a toolbox of self-help tips at your disposal, so that you can cope with panic and minimise your exposure. Try the following strategies:
For a detailed overview, as well as a look at some of the evidence-based approaches to treating panic disorder, you may find this fact sheet from Anxiety UK useful.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He .
How Are Panic Attacks Managed Or Treated
Psychotherapy, medications or a combination are very effective at stopping panic attacks. How long youll need treatment depends on the severity of your problem and how well you respond to treatment. Options include:
- Psychotherapy:Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy, or talk therapy. You discuss your thoughts and emotions with a mental health professional, such as a licensed counselor or psychologist. This specialist helps identify panic attack triggers so you can change your thinking, behaviors and reactions. As you start to respond differently to triggers, the attacks decrease and ultimately stop.
- Antidepressants: Certain antidepressant medications can make panic attacks less frequent or less severe. Providers may prescribe serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors , serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants . SSRIs include fluoxetine and paroxetine . SNRIs include duloxetine and venlafaxine . TCAs include amitriptyline and doxepin .
- Anti-anxiety medications: Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medication to treat and prevent panic attacks. They help with anxiety but have risks of addiction or dependence. These medications include alprazolam and lorazepam .
Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
Getting a panic attack occasionally is typically nothing to worry about. It could happen to anyone depending on the situation they find themselves in. However, if youve been getting frequent panic attacks and cant seem to identify the triggers, you might have a condition called panic disorder.
A person with a panic disorder might experience such frequent panic attacks that it affects their daily functioning. They might become socially withdrawn because they are ashamed of their condition.
Panic disorders are more likely to occur in women than in men. It also starts to develop in your late teens or early adulthood.
If youve been having frequent panic attacks and cant identify any triggers, its advisable to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider about it. About 11% of Americans experience panic attacks, and up to 3% of that number have developed a panic disorder.
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What Causes Panic Attacks
The physical symptoms of a panic attack are caused by your body going into “fight or flight” mode.
As your body tries to take in more oxygen, your breathing quickens. Your body also releases hormones, such as adrenaline, causing your heart to beat faster and your muscles to tense up.
Having a panic attack now? Try these tips for coping with panic attacks.
You may also find that breathing exercises help.
How Do You Know Youre Having A Panic Attack
An anxiety or panic attack often comes on suddenly, with symptoms peaking within 10 minutes. For doctors to diagnose a panic attack, they look for at least four of the following signs: sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, a choking sensation, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, fear of losing your mind, fear of dying, feeling hot or cold, numbness or tingling, a racing heart , and feeling unusually detached from yourself.
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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.”
Some People May Develop Panic Disorders
For many people, the feelings of panic occur only occasionally during periods of stress or illness. A person who experiences recurring panic attacks is said to have panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder. They generally have recurring and unexpected panic attacks and persistent fears of repeated attacks.
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Stress Anxiety And Then Panic: Neal’s Story
As Sideman says, his attack occurred in the early 1990s, and few people seriously considered the possibility of a panic attack in a 39-year-old man. So he went home thinking all would be fine, only to have another, more severe attack one week later.
Now, looking back, the situation seems clearer.
I was under a lot of stress starting a new business, working 16-hour days, a close friend was ill and dying, and on top of all that, I was doing a super heavy workout regimen at the gym with a trainer,” Sideman says. “So it was a lot of physical stress, emotional stress, and a lot of financial stresses.” He says he also can see roots of anxiety in his childhood and teen years as well as in other family members.
In the moment, he didnt know what to think because it can be tough to know what a panic attack is like until you have one. His second panic attack was really a full-blown panic attack, where I thought I was going to die,” Sideman says. “I thought I was going to pass out, not wake up, go crazy, have a heart attack.”
He recalled being terrified, and the response he chose was one that can actually make panic disorder worse: He started to avoid the situations where he had attacks.
Sufficient Sleep And Exercise
Sufficient and proper sleep is always required. Its difficult to get adequate sleep when you have a panic attack. You will be able to sleep soundly without fear or panic attacks if you take the medications exactly the way your doctor prescribes.
Exercise on a regular basis can assist you in diverting your mind. Aerobic activity aids in the reduction of stress and the improvement of mood. Regular and light exercise will also help in relieving anxiety attacks.
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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.
Causes Of Anxiety Fear And Panic
There are many different causes of anxiety, fear or panic and it’s different for everyone.
When you’re feeling anxious or scared, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
This can be helpful in some situations, but it might also cause physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate and increased sweating. In some people, it might cause a panic attack.
Regular anxiety, fear or panic can also be the main symptom of several health conditions. Do not self-diagnose speak to a GP if you’re worried about how you’re feeling.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
If you have panic attacks, you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- Why am I having panic attacks?
- What is the best treatment for panic attacks?
- How long will I need therapy?
- How long do I need to take medications?
- Should I look out for medication side effects?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Panic attacks can be extremely uncomfortable. Although theyre not physically harmful, they can take a toll on your mental health and stop you from doing the things you love. Dont be embarrassed to tell your healthcare provider that you have panic attacks. Your provider can help you overcome fears and anxieties that trigger attacks. You can get better with treatments like psychotherapy and medications.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/12/2020.
Can An Anxiety Attack Wake You Up
If you wake up with a panic attack, you might be experiencing a nighttime, or nocturnal, panic attack. These events cause symptoms like any other panic attack sweating, rapid heart rate, and fast breathing but because you were asleep when they began, you may wake up disoriented or frightened by the feelings.
What does it mean if you wake up in a panic?
What causes night time panic attacks?
Underlying factors may include genetics, stress and certain changes in the way parts of your brain work. In some cases, an underlying condition, such as a sleep disorder or thyroid problem, can cause panic-like signs and symptoms.
Can panic attacks wake you at night?
Can panic attack wake you up?
Why am I waking up with a panic attack?
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What Is A Panic Attack And How Is It Treated
Panic is an intense sensation of fear or anxiety in response to an actual danger or acute stress. Panic inhibits our ability to reason clearly or logically. Panic and panic attacks can be treatedboth psychotherapy and medication have been found to be effective in helping to reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. Your specific treatment path will depend on personal preference, medical history, and the severity of your attacks.
Panic attacks typically occur without warning and can be accompanied by symptoms like chest pain, dizziness, trembling, sweating and shortness of breath. It can be frightening to experience, either firsthand or as a witness. But knowing the warning signs or triggers of an attackif anyand remembering to breathe deeply or count backwards during the episode can help, in addition to other treatments like therapy and medication.
Psycom believes assessments can be a valuable first step toward getting treatment. All too often people stop short of seeking help out of fear their concerns arent legitimate or severe enough to warrant professional intervention.
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Ways To Prevent Panic Attacks
“You need to try to work out what particular stress you might be under that could make your symptoms worse,” says Professor Salkovskis. “It’s important not to restrict your movements and daily activities.”
- Doing breathing exercises every day will help to prevent panic attacks and relieve them when they are happening
- Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, will help you to manage stress levels, release tension, improve your mood and boost confidence
- Eat regular meals to stabilise your blood sugar levels
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoking these can make panic attacks worse. Panic support groups have useful advice about how you can effectively manage your attacks. Knowing that other people are experiencing the same feelings can be reassuring. Your GP can put you in touch with groups in your area
- Cognitive behavioural therapy can identify and change the negative thought patterns that are feeding your panic attacks
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What To Do About Your Anxiety Attacks
In some cases, a person has one anxiety attack and then they’re done. Often this occurs when a person is under extreme stress and the body loses its ability to cope. But many people develop panic disorder, which is characterized by recurrent anxiety attacks or a fear of anxiety attacks.
Remember, this disorder isn’t something someone can control. Many people think that rational thinking is all a person needs to get out of it, but anxiety attacks are much more like a disease. You need to find something effective to treat it, like cognitive behavioral therapy, rather than try to ride it out and hope that they go away.
That’s why if you do feel like you’ve had an anxiety attack or have anxiety attack problems, it’s important that you take action right away. The longer you wait, the harder they may be to cure and the more they affect your life.
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How Long Do Panic Attacks Last
Panic attacks are generally brief, lasting less than 10 minutes, although some of the symptoms may last longer. An isolated panic attack, while extremely unpleasant, is not uncommon or life-threatening.
Panic attacks can be a symptom of other anxiety disorders, and people whoâve had one panic attack are at greater risk for another compared to those whoâve never had one. Panic attacks and panic disorder are not the same thing. When the attacks happen repeatedly and you worry about having more episodes, you may have panic disorder.
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Phobias And Irrational Fears
A phobia is an unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little to no danger. Common phobias include fear of animals , fear of flying, and fear of needles. In the case of a severe phobia, you might go to extreme lengths to avoid the object of your fear. Unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the phobia.
Symptoms During A Panic Attack
During a panic attack, people may have a sense of impending doom, may feel as though they are dying from a heart attack or suffocation, or may feel that they are losing control or going crazy. However the exact experience, and how it is described, may vary from person to person.
A full-symptom panic attack is defined as including four or more of the following physical and psychological symptoms::
- Palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate
- Derealization or depersonalization
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Fear of dying.
A panic attack usually lasts between 5 and 20 minutes, with most panic attacks reaching their peak at around 10 minutes.
Nearly all panic attacks subside in under an hour. It is common to feel exhausted and shaken by the experience of having a panic attack, for minutes or hours after the attack itself is over.
If you think you or someone you know may be experiencing a panic attack, the Ada app can help you check your symptoms. or find out more .
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Signs Of A Panic Attack
There are 13 recognized signs of a possible panic attack. Four are required for a panic attack diagnosis. These signs include physical and emotional symptoms:
Physical Symptoms of a Panic Attack
The physical symptoms of a panic attack are caused by the body’s “fight or flight” reaction to stress. Because the physical symptoms of a panic attack are so severe, people often believe that they are having a heart attack. Those with a known heart condition who experience these symptoms should seek medical care immediately. Those who suffer a panic attack should have their heart health evaluated to be sure their symptoms aren’t cardiac in nature.
These are the physical symptoms of panic attack:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or fast heart rate
- Chills or sensations of heat
Psychological Symptoms of a Panic Attack
These are the psychological symptoms of panic attack:
- Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Fear of dying
Any combination of four symptoms, either physical or psychological, can lead to a panic attack diagnosis. Some people have episodes with the same symptoms as panic attacks but with fewer than four symptoms. These are known as limited-symptom attacks.
What Are Nocturnal Panic Attacks And How Do They Occur
Nocturnal panic attacks occur before you enter the rapid eye movement cycle of your sleep , which may be why your mind reacts first to a feeling of anxiety as the body sleeps.
What causes panic attacks in sleep apnea?
Sleep Apnea. Sleep apnea also known as obstructive sleep apnea is a common cause of sleeping panic attacks. Sleep apnea is actually a fairly common medical condition, and it occurs when something obstructs breathing in the upper airway.
How do I get over a panic attack and sleep?
Also, if you find that you cant go back to sleep, try to go out into your home and do something fun. Distract yourself. Remind yourself that you had a panic attack, everything is okay, and all you need to do is calm down. Fighting your panic attack and trying to go back to sleep while stressed often doesnt work.
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