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How To Tell If You Are Having A Panic Attack

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Treatments For Panic Attacks And Anxiety Attacks

How do you know if you’re having a panic attack?

The most effective treatments for both panic and anxiety attacks is therapy, even if it is short-term. As these attacks can be brought on by fear, worry, stress, or a disorder, a professional can help you get to the root of the problem.

Here are some types of therapy to treat panic and anxiety attacks and disorders:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Exposure therapy for panic disorder
  • Exposure therapy for panic disorder with agoraphobia

You can also take preventative steps to avoid both kinds of attacks. Some helpful things to reduce panic and anxiety include:

  • Managing your stress

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Drug Cutting & Illicit Xanax

When sold on the streets, Xanax can be identified by various slang terms, such as Xannies, Bars, Z-Bars, Zanbars, Xanbars, Handlebars, Planks, or Bricks, among others. The drug is typically sold as pills or tablets but can also be injected. People abuse Xanax for its relaxing qualities that cause sensations of calmness and euphoria.

Medical professionals warn that it is dangerous to buy Xanax online or from distributors other than licensed pharmacies. Products sold by such vendors often contain dangerous ingredients that are not monitored by the Food and Drug Administration. Many people end up in the emergency room or suffer fatal consequences for consuming Xanax that has been laced with products unbeknownst to them.

Another danger of buying Xanax illicitly is that it is sold in highly potent variations. Health care professionals have worked with teenagers who have bought Xanax bars on the streets at much higher doses than what a doctor would prescribe. Various versions of the drug that are commonly cut with other substances are often marketed online as research chemicals and can be purchased by anyone. Mixing even small amounts of alcohol with such drugs, as many people using Xanax recreationally do, can be fatal.

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Did I Just Have A Panic Attack

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 …

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How To Handle A Panic Attack

Professor Paul Salkovskis, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science at the University of Bath, says it’s important not to let your fear of panic attacks control you.

“Panic attacks always pass and the symptoms are not a sign of anything harmful happening,” he says. “Tell yourself that the symptoms you’re experiencing are caused by anxiety.”

He says don’t look for distractions. “Ride out the attack. Try to keep doing things. If possible, it’s important to try to remain in the situation until the anxiety has subsided.”

“Confront your fear. If you don’t run away from it, you’re giving yourself a chance to discover that nothing’s going to happen.”

As the anxiety begins to pass, start to focus on your surroundings and continue to do what you were doing before.

“If youre having a short, sudden panic attack, it can be helpful to have someone with you, reassuring you that it will pass and the symptoms are nothing to worry about,” says Professor Salkovskis.

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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How Do I Know If Its A Panic Attack Or Heart Attack

Since there are overlapping symptoms, how do you know if youre having a panic attack or a heart attack? One thing to keep in mind is your age. If you are under 40 years old and relatively healthy, chances are that youre having a panic attack. This is even more true if youve had a panic attack in the past.

Another clue can be how long the event is taking place. Normally, a panic attack lasts only a few minutes. While it can be longer, a panic attack will eventually end. A heart attack doesnt end and is one of the reasons that you need to seek immediate care.

Panic attacks normally occur while your body is at rest whereas a heart attack is more likely to happen while youre exerting your heart. This could be during exercise, doing yard work, or simply running up the stairs. People who dont do much physical activity are at higher risk than those who do.

The Website Carries A Disclaimer

Above-board satirical websites like The Onion tell you theyre peddling satire. Less-honest sites sometimes issue confusing disclaimers. NewsBuzzDaily, for example, writes on every page that it contains both real shocking news and satire news, then adds, Please note that articles written on this site are for entertainment and satirical purposes only. So is it all satire or only partial satire? And if partial, which stories are true?

Even worse, though, is The Stately Harold. Readers should suspect the site is fake it features a simplistic, campy home page and misspells Herald as Harold. It defends itself by saying its site carries a disclaimer, and it does. This is Satire! is printed at the bottom of every page. But those words lie hidden within a black box on the bottom of the page that contains the copyright. The only way you can see them is if you highlight the copyright with your cursor. Well, who would think to do that?!

Whats the lesson here? If youre not sure about a websites legitimacy, search around to see if theres any kind of disclaimer. If you find one, that likely means the site cant be trusted, even if the disclaimer is worded confusingly. Legitimate sites dont need disclaimers.

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What Are Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are quick and intense fears that trigger strong physiological, emotional and behavioral reactions but with no apparent cause or reason, said Jerimya Fox, a licensed professional counselor and a doctor of behavioral health at Banner Behavioral Health Hospital. They can be quite scary, but thankfully, they arent life-threatening.

Its estimated that many people will have one or two panic attacks in their lifetime, and about 3% of Americans will develop a panic disorder, an anxiety disorder with unexpected and repeated episodes. And it appears that women are twice more likely than men to suffer from anxiety disorders.

If you believe you may be suffering from a panic attack, heres how to tell if youre having one, why it may have happened and how to cope.

Panic Attack Vs Heart Attack

What are Panic Attacks Why You Get them?

To be completely frank, the signs of a panic attack and heart attack are very similar. Between 2009 and 2011, there were well over a million emergency room visits for panic attacks. Of course, people dont usually go to the hospital expecting to be treated for a panic attack, but to rule out a heart attack. Here are some quick tips to help you differentiate the two types of episodes:

  • The tightness and pain of a panic attack usually stay in the chest whereas with heart attacks it may radiate to the arm, neck, or jaw.
  • The type of chest pain associated with heart attacks usually feels like extreme heaviness accompanied by a burning sensation similar to heartburn. Pani attacks on the other hand usually feel like a more sharp sensation and increased heartbeat.
  • Heart attacks are often triggered by physical exertion whereas panic attacks are not.
  • Both can occur while sleeping, but people usually dont have panic attacks at night unless they also experience them during the day.

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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.

What Are The Symptoms Of Panic Disorder

Panic attacks can happen in other types of anxiety disorders, too. Generally, if you have 4 or more panic attacks and if you always worry about having another, you have panic disorder. Symptoms of a panic attack may include:

  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Chest pain and other symptoms that mimic a heart attack

Panic disorder can be upsetting and disabling. An attack can last from a few minutes to an hour or sometimes longer.

The symptoms of a panic attack may look like other mental health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

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How To Stop A Panic Attack According To Therapists

The good news is that they dont last forever.

Ill never forget where I was when I had my first panic attack. I woke up in the middle of the night with my heart racing, hands trembling, arms tingling, and forehead sweating profusely. I paced around my bedroom screaming because I didnt know what was going on and it quite literally felt like I was having a heart attack. At the time, I didnt know how to stop a panic attack, so I just hoped it would subside on its own. I cant tell you specifically what triggered my panic attack, but after a few sessions with my therapist, we think it was stress-induced, thanks to my never-ending to-do list.

A panic attack is a sudden emotional response of feeling terror or fear when, in reality, there is no imminent danger to the person experiencing it, says Kelly McKenna, licensed clinical social worker and anxiety therapist.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, every year up to 11 percent of Americans experience a panic attackso its safe to say Im not alone in this. The therapists Ive talked to say many of their clients experience themand its learning how to stop a panic attack, or well, slow one down that is the ultimate game changer.

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Keep reading to find out more about how to stop a panic attack, according to therapists, and what youll want to do next time you find yourself or a loved one in this uncomfortable situation.

What Is A Panic Attack

How Does A Panic Attack Feel

In order to determine if you are experiencing a panic attack, it can be helpful to understand exactly what a panic attack actually is. A panic attack is when in the absence of true danger feelings of fear, disaster, or losing control trigger a strong physical response. On a physiological level, what is happening is that your brain senses fear and triggers your fight or flight response. When your body is in fight or flight mode, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in and redirects all of its energy and resources to the muscles and organs in your body needed to fight or flee. Your body produces cortisol , and your breathing becomes more rapid and shallow which reduces oxygen intake. Your blood vessels constrict, blood pressure rises, and your body begins to feel tight.

Being that there likely isnt a tiger, bear, or any other scary monster to actually fight or run from, this response isnt actually helpful. What your body really needs is to send signals back to the brain that everything is okay and that there isnt actually any physical danger.

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What Are The Symptoms Of A Panic Attack

While panic attacks are not usually medically dangerous, Saranga says theyre pure torture for the person going through them. The physiological symptoms of a panic attack include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, increased heart rate and blood pressure, shaking, and some people will get hot while others feel cold, dizziness, muscle tension, an out of body sensation and a feeling of losing control.

In addition, there are a number of psychological symptoms experienced at the same time, including a rush of negative thoughts that tell the person they need to escape the situation they are in and get someplace safe, says Saranga. Thoughts that this could be the end and they are about to die, pass out or go crazy, and thoughts that this might not be a panic attack but something more serious, perhaps a heart attack, for example.

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Focus On Something Else

After a panic attack, your personal thoughts and energy may be overly focused on your anxiety and other symptoms. Instead of feeding your anxiety with more attention or worry, try to concentrate on something that brings you some happiness or a sense of peace.

For example, you may find it helpful to bring your awareness to something fun you plan on doing in the future or to joyful times from your past. If possible, try taking a walk in the fresh air or engage in an activity you enjoy to help clear your mind.

Some distraction techniques that can be effective include counting breaths, watching television, reading a book, meditating, or a creative hobby.

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What You Need To Know About Panic Disorders

Unlike anxiety, which often has clear triggers, panic attacks occur suddenly and unexpectedly and typically only last for a few minutes.

Those who experience panic attacks have reported lightheadedness, chest pain, hot flashes, chills, and stomach discomfort. Some say they feel like they were being choked or suffocated. Others say an attack made them feel detached from reality.

Occasional panic attacks can happen to anyone, although for some individuals, they occur more frequently and cause significant distress and impairment.

Evidence-based treatments for panic disorder are similar to those for anxiety and involve exposure-based treatment. Mindfulness and meditation can also be useful to curb stress and promote increased psychological flexibility.

Sometimes medications are used to augment behavioral treatments for panic disorder and include beta-blockers, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.

If you have had continued panic attacks, you may need to seek professional help. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, other mental health and medical conditions, and whether you are experiencing abnormal stress or anxiety. Blood tests and a heart examination may also be required.

Both panic and anxiety are treatable and manageableeven when they may feel as if they are out of your control.

How Do You Calm Panic Attack 5 Things You Can See

Signs of a Panic Attack

Calming a panic attack with 5 things you can see is considered a very useful exercise where you use your imagination to go to your safe place.

There you attempt to engage your senses where you describe what you can see, hear, feel, taste and smell.

This will help you engage the areas of the brain that are involved in decision-making and rational thought.

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You May Think You’re Having A Heart Attack

A racing or pounding heart is a common symptom of a panic attack. You might even have chest pain or discomfort. That’s why people having panic attacks often believe they’re having a heart attack. But once in the hospital, they start to feel better because “the danger is starting to go away,” Hunter said.

There’s A Feeling Of Doom

If you’re having a panic attack, you might feel like you’re losing control or that you might die.

In certain social situations, people with social anxiety disorder may experience similar sensations, such as fear and trembling. However, in a small, 2016 study in Psychiatry Research, Brown and colleagues examined differences in panic attacks in panic disorder. Turns out those awful sensations are much more common in people with panic disorder than with social anxiety disorder.¹

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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.

Can Lack Of Sleep Trigger Panic Attacks

How To Tell If Someone Is Having An Anxiety Attack

Lack of sleep can, in turn, increase panic attacks and symptoms of anxiety. The biochemical reaction which comes with lack of sleep can make you feel overstressed and nervous. Tension and stress can cause a nervous system reaction which makes you take short, shallow breaths leading to retention of carbon dioxide.

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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.

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