A panic attack refers to a sudden overwhelming fear and anxiety. It is characterized by shortness of breath, rapid heartbeats and even sweating. Some will also feel dizzy and nauseated.
The attack is often so abrupt that the victim looks like one who has gone crazy. If those around you are not aware of what you’re going through, they’ll just stare, perturbed. Others may attempt to give you some sort of first aid.
Panic attacks can strike without warning, and sometimes with no obvious trigger. Most victims experience a series of panic attacks. Cases of a singular panic attack are rare.
When the panic attacks keep occurring, chances are there is a definite trigger. In most cases, the victim reports to have experienced an occurrence, person or activity that has evoked anxiety before. Traumatic events such as an accident, fire, domestic abuse, robbery or kidnapping can also trigger a series of panic attacks.
Do not ignore a panic attack just because you have managed to calm down. If unattended, it can develop into a panic disorder where anxiety becomes a permanent factor of your life. Early intervention enhances the chances of dealing with the condition once and for all.
Panic attacks often run in families. Major life transitions, emotionally draining events and distressing losses have been cited as the triggers of such attacks. If several members of your family are struggling with anxiety, you all need to get help then you can assist each other along the way.
The most prominent symptoms of panic attacks include:
- Rapid heart beats
- Shortness of breath with a feeling of suffocation
- Sweating and nausea
- Confusion and lack of coordination
Therapy offers the most effective treatment for panic attacks. Cognitive behavior therapy is aimed at identifying what sets off the attack. What did you remember, see or hear right before the attack? Once this is established, you’re assisted with ways of looking at the anxiety more reliably.
For instance if you’re constantly plagued by the fear of making a presentation, you can watch videos of people making presentations confidently then practice in the mirror. Make the presentation to a small group of people such as your family members. You can handle that, right? The fear you associate with such an event gradually reduces.
If your anxiety comes from an incident that you went through, you’ll be taken through exposure therapy which induces sentiments similar to those that trigger the attack but in a safe environment. You can then internalize the feeling and find alternative ways of coping with it. Once you experience a real attack after that, you’re already well versed with ways of achieving relief.
It is common to feel exposed and unsafe right before the attack. You get the feeling that something distressing that has happened to you before is about to happen again. The sentiment is so overwhelming that you feel yourself crumbling down. It helps to have company at this time. Avoid being alone, will help you feel safer and even reduce the instances of the attack.
Panic attacks sometimes cause further injuries such as falls, burns, and sprains and so on as they make you lose your coordination. It is advisable to stock some home medical supplies in case of such occurrences. Surround yourself with supportive people who understand your condition and take time to constantly assure you of your safety.
Going through a traumatic event is disheartening enough; you don’t want the burden of anxiety added to it. Seek early help and increase your chances of reclaiming serenity in your life.