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What is the definition of a panic attack?

Worry attacks are intense bursts of dread, panic, or anxiety. They are debilitating, with both physical and emotional manifestations.

If you experience a panic attack, you might discover you have difficulty breathing, sweat heavily and shake, and feel your heart racing.

During a panic attack, some people may suffer chest pain and a sense of disconnection from reality or themselves, leading them to believe they have a heart attack. Others have described themselves as suffering a stroke.

Causes

Panic attacks can occur for various reasons, and they can also happen for no apparent reason.

If you do the following, you're more likely to encounter them:

• use certain substances or have a substance use disorder • have panic disorder or another anxiety disorder

• take specific drugs

• suffer from a medical problem, such as an overactive thyroid

• be suffering from a psychotic disorder

You're more likely to have a panic attack when exposed to a trigger, although motivations differ significantly from person to person. There may be no apparent cause in some circumstances.

Some people, however, believe that the following can set off an attack:

• social gatherings

• speaking in front of an audience

• conflict

• circumstances that bring up memories of previous or current stressors in your life

Symptoms

A panic attack is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as "an instantaneous rush of acute dread or discomfort."

They usually begin without warning and reach their peak within minutes.

Here are some of the signs you might have if you have a panic attack:

• palpitations, a racing heart, or a fast heart rate

• sweating

• trembling or shaking

• trouble breathing, or a sense of suffocation or being suffocated

• soreness or pain in the chest

• a stomach ache or nausea

• feeling light-headed, dizzy, or faint

• feeling unsettled

• chills or a feeling of being overheated

• tingling or numbness

• a sense that things aren't quite right

• a sense of disconnection from oneself.

• apprehension of losing control or "becoming insane."

• the fear of death

Is it possible to prevent a panic attack?

Although it is not always feasible to avoid a panic attack, the following suggestions may be helpful:

• Practice breathing exercises daily.

• Exercise regularly

• To avoid glucose spikes, consume a low-sugar diet and eat frequently.

• seek counselling and other professional treatment • avoid caffeine, smoking, and alcohol, which can exacerbate anxiety.

• inquire about local support groups with your doctor.

Although avoiding specific triggers can help prevent panic attacks, this is not always practicable or acceptable. Some specialists advise people to "ride out" the attack and carry on with their lives as best they can.

If a circumstance is likely to cause you significant discomfort, you should wait until you've worked with a professional to establish coping skills and methods.

When should you consult a physician?

Consider seeing a doctor if you're worried about panic attacks, especially if you:

• You've had one or more panic attacks from a trusted source and have been worried about them for a month or more.

• After an attack, you see that your conduct has changed.

• Your worries or feelings of fear or worry are interfering with your employment, studies, or day-to-day activities.

Summary

Many people suffer from panic episodes, in which they feel scared and out of control of a situation for no apparent reason.

It can be terrifying to feel out of breath or as if you're experiencing a heart attack.

Panic attacks can strike at any time and significantly influence your life, but there are strategies to deal with them. Panic and anxiety disorders, which may be an underlying illness, can also be treated.

Consult your doctor if
you're worried about panic attacks. They can assist you in developing a practical approach for managing symptoms and reducing their severity. Medication, such as antidepressants, may be used in conjunction with counselling.

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