A panic attack refers to a sudden episode of experiencing intense fear. This fear triggers intense or severe physical reactions when there is no apparent cause or real danger present. Panic attacks are frightening sometimes. 

You may think that you are losing control of your body after getting a panic attack. It feels like you are going to have a heart attack. People also think that they will die after experiencing episodes of panic attacks. There are many people who experience a panic attack once or two times in life.

After this, the issue goes away when a specific stressful situation ends. You may develop a condition called panic disorder if you have unexpected and recurrent panic attacks and spend your time with a consistent fear of having another panic attack.

The fact is that panic attacks are not threatening to your life. They are frightening and impact people’s quality of life. Treatment can prove effective for panic disorder.

Symptoms

Typically, a panic attack starts without warning. They can appear at any time when you are at the mall, doing a business meeting, driving or car, or feeling asleep. You may experience occasional or frequent panic attacks. There are variations in panic attacks.

But your symptoms peak within a few minutes. After a subside of a panic attack, you may feel worn out and fatigued. Following are the symptoms of panic attacks.

  • Pounding, rapid heart rate
  • Fear of death and loss of control
  • Sense of danger
  • Sweating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Breath shortness or throat tightness
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness
  • Tingling sensation
  • A feeling of detachment or unreality

The worst thing people experience in attacks is the intense fear of having another one. People may have this fear that they sometimes decide to avoid certain situations.

Causes

The exact cause of the panic disorder is unknown. These factors play a major role in developing a panic disorder or experiencing a panic attack.

  • Major stress
  • Genetics
  • Certain alterations in the function of your brain parts
  • Temperament

A panic attack may come without any warning. They are sudden. But over time, these can be the result of triggering situations.

Treatment

Treatment helps people to reduce the frequency and intensity of panic attacks. It improves your daily life functioning. Psychotherapy and medications are the main options of treatment. 

The doctor may recommend one or both treatments. It depends on your history of the disorder, the severity of symptoms, your preferences, and whether you have easy access to your therapist.

Psychotherapy

It is also called talk therapy. It is considered a first-choice treatment for panic disorder and panic attacks. Psychotherapy helps people to get aware of panic attacks and panic disorders. It helps them to learn coping skills.

Cognitive behavior therapy is a form of psychotherapy. It can help you to understand your personal experience and symptoms that are not life-threatening or dangerous. A mental health professional helps you to re-create panic attack symptoms in a safe and repetitive manner.

Attacks can go away once you feel that panic sensations are not much threatening. Successful treatment helps you to not avoid certain situations because of panic attacks.

Getting effective results from the treatment needs effort and time. The symptoms of panic attacks reduce within a few weeks. These symptoms decrease in intensity or go away within months.

Medications

Medications help to reduce the intensity of symptoms that are linked with a panic attack or other mental health conditions like depression. Different medications are effective for the treatment of panic attacks. Information about these medications is given below.

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Serotonin and Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors 
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

Doctors often combine certain medications if recommended medications do not prove effective for you. It boosts the effectiveness of treatment. It may take weeks to improve the symptoms after starting medications so be patient and do not miss the treatment.

There may be some side effects of the medications you are using. Doctors may not recommend some medications in specific conditions like pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about the risk and possible side effects of medications.

Try to note down your symptoms in your diary and discuss them with your doctor on a visit. Do not hesitate to tell your condition to your doctor. It helps you to take the right treatment for the specific mental health condition.