Are Panic Attacks Bad For Your Heart
According to a study published in Psychology Medicine1, people who suffer from panic attacks and panic disorder may be at higher risk of heart attack and heart disease later in life. While the link between panic disorder and heart disease remains controversial, the study found that compared to individuals without panic disorder, sufferers were found to have up to a 36% higher risk of heart attack and up to 47% higher risk of heart disease. If you suffer from panic attacks, seek attention for any chest pain symptoms in order to rule out any issues with heart health.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Panic Disorder
People with panic disorder may have:
- Sudden and repeated panic attacks of overwhelming anxiety and fear
- A feeling of being out of control, or a fear of death or impending doom during a panic attack
- Physical symptoms during a panic attack, such as a pounding or racing heart, sweating, chills, trembling, breathing problems, weakness or dizziness, tingly or numb hands, chest pain, stomach pain, and nausea
- An intense worry about when the next panic attack will happen
- A fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past
What To Do During A Panic Attack
You may feel as though you are helpless during a panic attack and that your best option is to ride it out and wait until it passes.
Thankfully, there are a number of techniques that you can try while you are experiencing a panic attack that can help the episode pass faster or even stop completely.
Its important to remember that panic attacks are not inherently dangerous and that the unpleasant sensations are merely temporary.
This knowledge alone can help you to get through a panic attack without becoming overwhelmingly frightened or anxious:
1. Focus on your breathing
When you hyperventilate, you begin to lose control of your response to the situation and increase the likelihood of experiencing other panic attack symptoms such as lightheadedness and tingling in the lips and fingers.
It can be helpful to focus on taking slow, deep breaths as you breathe in for three seconds, hold for two and then release the breath for another three seconds. This will calm your mind and can often stop a panic attack in its tracks as well as reducing the chances of experiencing additional symptoms.
2. Practice mindfulness
A common symptom of a panic attack is the feeling of being disconnected from yourself or the situation, and you may even feel as though you are simply observing the experience as opposed to actually living it. This can feel extremely disconcerting and may cause you to feel even more panicked and anxious.
3. Remind yourself that it will pass
4. Picture a relaxing place
Don’t Miss: Throw Up Phobia
Is There A Way To Stop A Panic Attack When It’s Happening
The natural response to panic attacks is to fight them or to escape from them. But that may only prolong them. Experts find that he better way is to lean into the fear, counterintuitive as it may feel at first. No matter how real and overwhelming it feels, the alarm your body has received about danger is false. That is the essence of a panic attack. The natural response is to want to fleeor to fight the feeling of panic. But experts who work with those who have panic attacks recognize that such behavior only prolongs the storm, and that there are actually ways to restore a sense of control in the middle of it. Perhaps the first is to understand that the terrifying physical sensations are set in motion automatically, the bodys reaction to a mistaken message of threat.
Why Do I Get Panic Attacks For No Reason
Have you recently felt that you have had a panic attack for no reason? Do you get panic attacks and cant understand why they happen?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders groups panic attacks into two categories – expected or unexpected. If you feel as though you have had a panic attack for no reason, it is likely that you have experienced one that would be considered unexpected.
You May Like: Does Pristiq Help With Anxiety
Are Panic Attacks Dangerous
Panic attacks are not dangerous in and of themselves. They are simply intense anxiety, and the symptoms are real expressions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activating and regulating.
An increase in heart rate occurs to improve the delivery of oxygen to our muscles to prepare for action like fight or flight. More oxygen is therefore needed and so breathing rate is increased, resulting in a sense of breathlessness and tightness in the chest.
As oxygen is directed to the core and muscles, supply can proportionately decrease to the head, leading to symptoms of dizziness.
The expression of these symptoms will self-regulate, so all panic attacks will cease. However, the residual effects of the bodys chemical messengers, adrenaline and noradrenaline, take some time to wash out. So its likely that after a panic attack the person will still feel some anxiety.
Again, this serves the function of having the body be prepared to reactivate for any other perceived or real threat. Its also understandable that after this experience the person will feel tired and drained.
So if you have a panic attack, while unpleasant, it isnt necessarily a sign that you need to seek help. It may be that through reflection you can use the panic attack as a signal to examine what is happening to lead to the physical or emotional stress in your life, and perhaps make some changes.
How To Deal With Panic Attacks
A panic attack is a feeling of sudden and intense anxiety.
Panic attacks can also have physical symptoms, including shaking, feeling disorientated, nausea, rapid, irregular heartbeats, dry mouth, breathlessness, sweating and dizziness.
The symptoms of a panic attack are not dangerous, but can be very frightening.
They can make you feel as though you are having a heart attack, or that you are going to collapse or even die.
Most panic attacks last somewhere from five minutes to half an hour.
Also Check: Pristiq For Panic Disorder
How To Handle A Panic Attack Safely
In a May 2018 article for Forbes, comedian Chris Allport was frank about what happened after he called 911 while having a panic attack caused by cannabis use. The dispatcher advised him to remember that it will pass and to drink water and breathe. Allport said the panic attack passed eventually.
Most people who call 911 because of an adverse reaction to cannabis report feelings of panic. The NHS says it is important to confront your fears head-on during a panic attack because it is the only way to learn that you will not be harmed.
It can help to have a friend support you through a panic attack. If you see someone else going through a panic attack, reassure them that they will be OK.
Medical News Today outlines a few additional tips:
- Visit a doctor if this is the first panic attack.
- Breathe from the stomach while slowly allowing the lungs to fill.
- Use medication if it has been prescribed.
- Breathe lavender scents unless you have taken a benzodiazepine recently.
- Go to a calm place or corner. This can reduce the stress that causes a panic attack.
- Identify the things that set off panic attacks and aim to avoid them.
Generally, 911 will not classify a panic attack as an emergency, but if you call them, they will oblige your request for an ambulance if you feel you need it. Though panic attacks are not dangerous, they are unpleasant. Having them frequently may also signify that you have panic disorder and need additional help.
What’s The Difference Between A Panic Attack And Panic Disorder
A panic attack is a singular, unexpected bout of intense anxiety with such sudden, forceful activation of body systemsincluding the heartthat a person typically feels as if she is about to die. The sense of danger is compounded by the sense of threat from within. There is often a sense of no escape. Panic attacks are extremely unpleasant and distressing. As a result, they can, and often do, give rise to the fear of having another such attack. Panic disorder exists when people who are subject to panic attacks change their behavior to avoid the possibility of having another. In about 30 percent of cases, people drastically curtail their lives, taking great pains to avoid crowded or enclosed spaces or busy public placesconcerts, elevators, airplane travel. That development is known as agoraphobia.
You May Like: Can Dehydration Cause Panic Attacks
Determining Panic Attack Causes
Keep in mind that one specific factor from the list above could be causing your panic or multiple factors could be working simultaneously to cause a panic attack. In most cases panic is caused by a variety of factors that all contribute towards increasing the possibility of experiencing an attack. One of the reasons that it can be tough to pin down a specific root cause for their panic attacks is because there may not be just one cause.
In many cases there are a variety of big picture factors such as unhealthy lifestyle, environmental stress, stimulant use, etc. that are simultaneously leading a person to panic. In other cases there may be specific things that can trigger panic attacks such as phobias or things that resemble trauma experienced in PTSD. When trying to figure out what is causing your panic, it may be beneficial to work with a professional as they may be able to provide some insight.
Ultimately what most people want is to figure out the cause so that they can address it and reduce or diminish the likelihood of experiencing another panic attack in the future. Since everyone is different, one person may make some lifestyle changes, reduce stress, increase relaxation, and they may never have another panic attack in their life. For others with panic rooted in genetics, therapy and medication may be the only treatment that works.
Are All Panic Attacks The Same
Not all panic attacks are experienced in the same way. The following describes one way panic attacks are categorized:
- Expected panic attacks: These attacks occur when a person is subjected to or is anticipating a particular trigger. For example, a person with a fear of heights may have a panic attack when inside of a tall building.
- Situational predisposed panic attacks: These attacks are similar to cued panic attacks, but do not always occur after subjection to a feared situation. These attacks also dont always occur at the time the person is exposed to the trigger. For instance, a person who has a fear of flying may not always have a panic attack while on a plane or may have one after being on a flight.
- Unexpected panic attacks: These attacks occur suddenly without any internal or external cues.
Don’t Miss: Skitzo Personality Disorder
What Causes A Panic Attack
Panic attacks can have a number of causes. Symptoms of panic attacks can occur both when youre in a calm state or an anxious state.
While panic attacks typically stem from panic disorder, they can also occur as a result of another mental health condition. For example, if you struggle with a social anxiety disorder, you may experience a panic attack when giving a speech in front of an audience. You could also suffer panic symptoms as someone with the obsessive-compulsive disorder if you cant carry out your rituals or compulsions.
It is not precisely clear what causes of panic attacks and panic disorders. Having said that, panic disorder can run in families. Research also finds that major life events and social anxiety triggers can play a role, including:
- Starting college or graduating from college
- Entering the workplace
- Stimulating use
- Withdrawal from medication
What Is It Like To Have Panic Disorder
One day, without any warning or reason, a feeling of terrible anxiety came crashing down on me. I felt like I couldnt get enough air, no matter how hard I breathed. My heart was pounding out of my chest, and I thought I might die. I was sweating and felt dizzy. I felt like I had no control over these feelings and like I was drowning and couldnt think straight.
After what seemed like an eternity, my breathing slowed and I eventually let go of the fear and my racing thoughts, but I was totally drained and exhausted. These attacks started to occur every couple of weeks, and I thought I was losing my mind. My friend saw how I was struggling and told me to call my doctor for help.
Don’t Miss: What Does The Suffix Phobia Mean
When To Seek Medical Attention
The first time one experiences a panic attack, one should seek medical attention promptly in order to check oneâs overall physical and mental health and discuss the possibility and prevention of future panic attacks.
It is not uncommon for an individual, who has experienced a panic attack, to feel embarrassment in telling their family or doctor. Many people are unaware of how common it is to experience a panic attack and/or that it could relate to panic disorder or another form of anxiety â conditions, which are highly treatable with appropriate psychotherapy and/or medication.
Even if one is not diagnosed with a mental health condition, oneâs doctor will be able to advise on management techniques in the event that a future panic attack occurs and will be able to perform check-ups to rule out other conditions or health concerns. For example, one may be screened to rule out the risk of a heart attack, particularly if one believed that one was experiencing a heart attack during the episode.
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.
You May Like: What’s The Phobia Of Long Words
Don’t Fight A Panic Attack
Fighting a panic attack can often make it worse. Trying to resist the attack and finding you’re unable to can increase your sense of anxiety and panic.
Instead, during a panic attack, reassure yourself by accepting that although it may seem embarrassing, and your symptoms may be difficult to deal with, the attack isn’t life-threatening. Focus on the fact that the attack will evetually end and try your best to let it pass.
When Should You Seek Help
A small portion of people who experience panic attacks may go on to develop a panic disorder.
Panic attacks may become frequent and lead a person to avoid situations they perceive as high risk.
In this case the panic attacks become a panic disorder, and it would be useful to seek expert help from a registered mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.
The most effective treatment for panic disorder is psychological therapy with or without antidepressants.
Recommended Reading: Which Olsen Twin Had An Eating Disorder
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.
Use Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Much like deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques can help stop your panic attack in its tracks by controlling your bodys response as much as possible.
Consciously relax one muscle at a time, starting with something simple like the fingers in your hand, and move your way up through your body.
Muscle relaxation techniques will be most effective when youve practiced them beforehand.
Don’t Miss: Pristiq Drug Interactions
Dealing With A Panic Attack
Although a panic attack comes on suddenly, often with no prior indication that it is going to happen, its initial symptoms intensify, and it tends to reach its peak after around 10 minutes. One can begin deploying various coping strategies to reduce the severity of a panic attack as soon as one notices the first signs.
Techniques which are useful in navigating a panic attack focus on calming the mind and body. Used effectively, they can reduce the severity of a given panic attack or prevent its initial stages developing into a full-symptom panic attack. Many helpful techniques related to managing a panic attack or preventing future episodes are derived from cognitive behavioral therapy , which focuses on making changes to a personâs usual thought processes and behavior in relation to particular concepts.
Strategies for managing an oncoming panic attack include:
Relaxing the muscles
A panic attack causes oneâs muscles to tense up, so performing muscle relaxing exercises, focused on relaxing both specific muscle groups and oneâs entire body, can help calm the body during a panic attack.
Stopping all activities
There are many CBT techniques designed to help with deconstructing anxious thoughts and restoring calm during and after a panic attack. Doctors or psychotherapists will be able to recommend techniques appropriate to each person’s mental health status and the nature of their panic attack.