A panic attack can feel like a heart attack. It can be so intense that you start to think you
are dying. You may feel as if you can’t breathe, and your chest hurts. You might also
have a feeling of unreality like you are outside of yourself looking on.
These symptoms come on quickly and can last from minutes to hours. Panic attacks
often occur without warning or after something has upset you emotionally. They can
make it hard to go about your day-to-day activities, and in some cases, they may keep
you from leaving your home altogether.
But there is good news: panic disorder is highly treatable, and most people who seek
treatment get relief from their symptoms. So if you experience panic attacks, don’t
hesitate to seek help. Treatment will help you get your life back on track.
What Is Panic Attack?
Panic attacks are sudden, intense periods of fear that may include physical symptoms
like palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, or numbness. These episodes
can occur at any time, and many people with panic disorder worry about and dread the
possibility of having another attack.
What causes panic attacks?
The exact cause of panic attacks is not fully understood, but it is thought to be a
combination of genetic and environmental factors. Panic disorder seems to run in
families, but it is also influenced by stressful life events such as job loss, relationship
problems, or financial stress.
What are the symptoms of panic attack?
The symptoms of a panic attack may include physical, psychological, or a combination
of both.
Physical symptoms may include:
• heart palpitations or a racing heart
• sweating
• trembling or shaking
• shortness of breath
• feelings of choking
• chest pain or discomfort
• nausea or stomach cramps
• dizziness or lightheadedness
• chills or heat sensations
• tingling sensation
• fear of losing control or “going crazy”
Psychological symptoms may include:
• feelings of impending doom or danger
• feeling like you are going to die
• fear of losing control or “going crazy”
• feeling detached from yourself or reality (derealization)
• fear of losing control and doing something embarrassing (depersonalization)
How is panic attack diagnosed?
To diagnose panic disorder, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical and
family history. He or she may also do a physical exam to look for signs of an underlying
medical condition. Your doctor may do a physical exam and ask you to do a
psychological evaluation to look for signs of an underlying medical condition.
What are the treatments for panic attacks?
The most common treatment for panic attacks is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT),
which teaches you how to change the way you think about and react to anxiety-
provoking situations. CBT can be done one-on-one with a therapist or in a group setting.
Exposure therapy, which gradually exposes you to the situations that trigger your
anxiety, is another effective treatment for panic disorder.
Medications, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, can also be helpful
in treating panic disorder. If you have panic disorder, it is important to work with your
doctor to find the treatment that is right for you.
How psychiatrist can help me in panic
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of
mental health conditions. A psychiatrist can provide you with a complete psychological
evaluation to help determine if you have panic disorder or another mental health
condition. If you do have panic disorder, your psychiatrist will work with you to develop a
treatment plan. This may include medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.
Q: Do panic attacks always happen suddenly?
A: Panic attacks can occur suddenly, but they may also happen after a period of anxiety
or stress.
Q: Are panic attacks dangerous?
A: While panic attacks are not physically dangerous, they can be very frightening and
may lead to avoidance of situations that trigger anxiety. This can interfere with your
daily life.
Q: Can panic disorder be cured?
A: There is no cure for panic disorder, but it is treatable. With treatment, most people
with panic disorder improve and many people recover completely.
While panic attacks can be frightening, they are not dangerous. With proper treatment,
most people with panic disorder can learn to manage their anxiety and live normal,
productive lives. If you think you may be experiencing panic attacks, talk to your doctor.
He can help you to get the treatment you need.