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 Are Panic Attacks Diagnosed
Serious health problems, such as heart disease, thyroid disease and respiratory problems, cause symptoms similar to panic attacks. Your healthcare provider may run tests to rule out a physical problem. If theres no physical cause, your provider may make a diagnosis based on your symptoms and risk factors.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Panic Disorder
The exact causes of panic disorder are unclear. But there is some evidence for the following theories, per the APA:
Life transitions Major life events, such as graduating from college, getting married, or having a first child, seem to be connected to panic disorder. The recent loss of or separation from a loved one has also been linked to panic disorder.
Genetic predisposition If you have a family member that has panic disorder, you have an increased risk of having it yourself, particularly during stressful times in your life.
Biological malfunction Panic disorder could also be due to a biological malfunction, but more research needs to be done.
A physical and psychological combination A person may experience physical symptoms as the onset of a panic attack and as a result have an actual panic attack. For example, if you have a racing heartbeat caused by drinking coffee,exercising, or taking a medication and you think you’re having a panic attack, you may trigger an actual panic attack.
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Coping With Panic Attacks
There are also steps that you can take if you are having a panic attack or fear that you might have one. Some helpful strategies you can try include:
- Deep breathing: This can help prevent the rapid breathing or hyperventilation that often happens during a panic attack
- Mindfulness:This involves grounding yourself and being more aware of what is happening with your body in the moment
- Progressive muscle relaxation: This involves tensing and then relaxing muscles throughout the body when practiced regularly, you can learn how to induce a relaxation response when you are anxious or stress
- Visualization: This involves thinking of something that you find calming and relaxing picturing this scene in your mind can help produce a relaxation response to combat your feelings of fear
Deterrence And Patient Education
It is important for a provider to inform the patient about the symptoms that he may suffer from if he is diagnosed with the disorder. If a patient is not aware of these symptoms it is probable that he would fear his condition more and would tend to get frequent attacks. Pharmacotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy should be discussed with the patients so that they can understand the treatment options for the condition that they have.
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Prevention Of Panic Attacks
You cant prevent panic disorder, but you may be able to prevent panic attacks by learning what your personal triggers are.
You can also help reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks with the following lifestyle modifications, per MedlinePlus:
- Get enough sleep
- Reduce or avoid caffeine, certain cold medicines, and stimulants
According to the Cleveland Clinic, these tips can also reduce your chances of having a panic attack:
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Talk to your doctor before taking herbal supplements or over-the-counter medications, because certain substances can increase anxiety.
Getting treatment for panic attacks as soon as possible can prevent them from getting worse or happening more often. Its also important to follow your treatment plan to prevent relapses and keep your symptoms from getting worse.
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.
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Types Of Panic Attacks
One way that panic attacks have been characterized into different types is as follows:
- Spontaneous or uncued panic attacks occur without warning or out of the blue. No situational or environmental triggers are associated with the attack. These types of panic attacks may even occur during sleep.
- Situationally bound or cued panic attacks occur upon actual or anticipated exposure to certain situations. These situations become cues or triggers for a panic episode. For example, a person who fears enclosed spaces may experience a panic attack when entering or thinking about entering an elevator.
- Situationally predisposed panic attacks dont always occur immediately upon exposure to a feared situation or cue, but the person is more likely to experience an attack in such situations. For example, a person who has a fear of social situations but who does not experience a panic episode in every social situation, or who experiences a delayed attack after being in a social environment for an extended period of time.
Panic Disorder Symptoms Causes And Effects
If you are suddenly experiencing an episode of intense anxiety and fear that sets off physical reactions with no apparent reason, you have an episode called a panic attack. Multiple occurrences of this extremely common health issue are indicative of panic disorder, which can be very problematic and frightening. Constant fears of going crazy, having a heart attack or dying are just some examples of panicked thoughts that may disrupt your everyday activities.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 6 million American adults have been diagnosed with panic disorder. With proper knowledge and finding the right treatment, you or someone you know who suffers from this disorder can overcome the symptoms and regain healthy living.
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How Long Does Treatment Take
Much of the success of treatment depends on your willingness to carefully follow the outlined treatment plan. This is often multifaceted, and it won’t work overnight, but if you stick with it, you should start to have noticeable improvement within about 10 to 20 weekly sessions. If you continue to follow the program, within one year you will notice a tremendous improvement.
If you are suffering from panic disorder, you should be able to find help in your area. You need to find a licensed psychologist or other mental health professional who specializes in panic or anxiety disorders. There may even be a clinic nearby that specializes in these disorders.
When you speak with a therapist, specify that you think you have panic disorder, and ask about his or her experience treating this disorder.
Keep in mind, though, that panic disorder, like any other emotional disorder, isn’t something you can either diagnose or cure by yourself. An experience clinical psychologist or psychiatrist is the most qualified person to make this diagnosis, just as he or she is the most qualified to treat this disorder.
This brochure is designed to answer your basic questions about panic disorder a qualified mental health professional will be able to give you more complete information.
Panic disorder does not need to disrupt your life in any way.
How Is Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia Diagnosed
The symptoms of panic disorder with agoraphobia can be similar to those of other conditions. Therefore, correctly diagnosing a panic disorder can take time. The first step is to visit your doctor. They will perform a thorough physical and psychological evaluation to rule out other conditions that have some of the same symptoms as panic disorders. These conditions could include:
- a heart problem
- hormone imbalance
- substance abuse
The Mayo Clinic makes the point that not everyone who has panic attacks has a panic disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , you must meet three criteria for a diagnosis of panic disorder:
- you frequently have unexpected panic attacks
- you have spent at least a month worrying about having another panic attack
- your panic attacks are not caused by alcohol or drugs, another illness, or another psychological disorder
The DSM has two criteria for the diagnosis of agoraphobia:
- fear of being in places that would be difficult or embarrassing to get out of if you had a panic attack
- avoidance of places or situations where you fear you might have a panic attack, or experiencing great distress in such places
Be completely honest with your doctor about your symptoms to obtain an accurate diagnosis.
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What Is A Panic Attack
A panic attack causes sudden, brief feelings of fear and strong physical reactions in response to ordinary, nonthreatening situations. When youre having a panic attack, you may sweat a lot, have difficulty breathing and feel like your heart is racing. It may feel as if youre having a heart attack.
Panic disorder can develop when you worry too much about having another panic attack or change behaviors to avoid having a panic attack.
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Avoidance Behaviors And Panic Disorder
Because panic disorder often leads to a person avoiding certain situations or objects, it can also lead to the development of phobias. For example, a person living with panic disorder might stop leaving home in order to prevent having an attack or losing control in public.
In time, this person might develop agoraphobia, a marked fear of being in a variety of situations outside of the home in which escape might be difficult or help might not be available if debilitating symptoms develop.
While previous versions of the DSM categorized panic disorder as occurring with or without agoraphobia, the newest edition of the diagnostic manual lists the two as distinct and separate disorders.
Is There A Test Or Self
While doctors make use of medical histories and physical exams as part of their evaluation in order to diagnose panic disorder, you can also administer self-screening for such a condition. These tests typically require listing the symptoms you felt, taking note of consequences felt after the panic attack, and mentioning how often you felt depressed, guilty and more. Even though these tests can be done personally, the results must still be forwarded to a credible healthcare professional for an accurate assessment. To find a professional near you, call us at .
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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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Panic Disorder Without Agoraphobia
- Both of the following:
- Recurrent unexpected panic attacks
- At least one of the attacks have been followed by one month or more of the following:
- Persistent concern about having additional attacks
- Worries about the implications or consequences of the attack
- Significant change in behavior related to the panic attacks
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How To Help Someone Having A Panic Attack
Seeing a friend or loved one suffering a panic attack can be frightening. Their breathing may become abnormally fast and shallow, they could become dizzy or light-headed, tremble, sweat, feel nauseous, or think theyre having a heart attack. No matter how irrational you think their panicked response to a situation is, its important to remember that the danger seems very real to your loved one. Simply telling them to calm down or minimizing their fear wont help. But by helping your loved one ride out a panic attack, you can help them feel less fearful of any future attacks.
Stay calm yourself. Being calm, understanding, and non-judgmental will help your loved ones panic subside quicker.
Focus your loved one on their breathing. Find a quiet place for your friend to sit and then guide them to take slow, deep breaths for a few minutes.
Do something physical. Together, raise and lower your arms or stamp your feet. It can help to burn off some of your loved ones stress.
Get your friend out of their own head by asking them to name five things around them or talking soothingly about a shared interest.
Encourage your loved one to seek help. Once the panic attack is over, your loved one may feel embarrassed about having an attack in front of you. Reassure them and encourage them to seek help for their anxiety.
Panic attacks: what they are and what to do about them Free course to help you manage panic.
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What Are Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. It can alert us to dangers and help us prepare and pay attention. Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.
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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
There is no cure for panic disorder, and it can present in a number of ways, thus making the diagnosis difficult. The majority of patients with panic disorder present to the emergency department and hence the role of the nurse and emergency clinician cannot be overemphasized. The patient needs a thorough education on the disorder and understands that the symptoms are not life-threatening. The patient needs to be told about the different treatments available and the need for compliance. Plus, the pharmacist should caution the patient against the use of alcohol or recreational drugs. The patient should be taught to recognize the triggers and avoid them. Before starting any drug therapy, the patient should be informed about the side effects and benefits. In addition, the family should be educated by the nurse and clinician in helping the patient overcome unrealistic fears and other behaviors. Finally, the patient should be educated on a healthy lifestyle by adopting good sleep hygiene, exercise, and a healthy diet. The patient should be advised against any herbal supplements without first speaking to the primary care provider. A team approach to the care of these patients will lead to the best outcomes.