Standing in line at the grocery store you start to feel your heart race. Within moments your hands are sweating, your breathing becomes short and rapid, you feel hot, dizzy and overwhelmed with a sense of fear.
What is this sensation? Where is it coming form? If you have experienced similar sensations in the past and especially if you have begun changing your life and routine in the fear of experiencing it again, you may be suffering from Panic Attacks.
WHAT ARE PANIC ATTACKS?
Panic is a physical reaction that is a response to stress. Often called the ‘fight or flight’ response, panic is a normal response to danger and is actually your body’s cue to get out of harm’s way. However, when panic sets in when there is no source of danger it can be linked to two causes – stress or possibly, a panic disorder.
The following symptoms are common during a panic attack:
– rapid heartbeat
– shortness of breath or inability to breath
– dizziness or nausea
– sweating, shaking or trembling
– a sense of fear or dread
– tingling sensation in the fingers or toes
– chest pain
– hot flashes or chills
– thinking you are going to die or go craz
WHAT CAUSES PANIC ATTACKS?
Stress in our lives is not usually caused by a physical danger; in fact most stress is caused by completely normal daily activities and is not harmful to us. Too much stress, however, is dangerous to our body and in some cases it can cause panic attacks, particularly if we have experienced an additional trauma or burden such as the loss of a loved one or big change such as a new job or move. While normal stress can cause anxiety, when panic attacks become regular a panic disorder may be the cause.
Panic disorder may or may not be directly related to over stress. Some researchers are linking the panic attacks caused by panic disorder to a physical cause. If this is the case you need to seek professional help in dealing with the symptoms.
Sadly most individuals suffering from panic disorder do not get properly diagnosed. Many begin to suffer the physical and psychological effects of changing their lives, their jobs and their recreational activities to accommodate their panic attacks before finding a physician that can properly diagnose their condition. The symptoms of panic attacks may also lead a person to believe they have a dangerous physical condition and seek treatment for various unrelated diseases and conditions.
CAN PANIC DISORDER BE TREATED?
If you think you have been experiencing panic attacks you will need to be diagnosed by your physician or referred to a psychiatrist. While the physical symptoms may not be connected to a mental condition, often the fear of having panic attacks in public leads to phobias that may need to be treated as well.
A combination of medication and therapy may be used to combat the panic attacks and help a person to overcome related phobias.
The good news is that panic disorder responds very well to treatment and those who receive treatment can lead healthy, normal lives.