Panic attacks are sudden bouts of extreme anxiety and fear that occur without warning. These attacks can come for no apparent reason, and are debilitating. If you have experienced a panic attack multiple times, it could be indicative of an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
A panic attack manifests itself physically, and can do so in a variety of ways. To be officially considered a panic attack, it must have four or more of these symptoms:
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Chills or hot flashes
- Shortness of breath
- Fear of dying
Panic attacks can come from social anxiety or phobias, but if you have experienced multiple ones for no discernable reason, it is very possible you have panic disorder. Panic disorder is a condition where the affected person is struck with the incapacitating fear and accompanying physical symptoms for no reason. These attacks usually last about 10 minutes, but in some cases, can last over an hour. Another symptom of panic disorderis the perpetual fear of having another panic attack. This leads to constant anxiety, even when there is no attack at the moment, and can reduce a person’s ability to function.
The cause behind panic disorder is not completely understood, but there have been studies that show the issues at play are sometimes a combination of genetic and environmental ones. The disorder has been shown, at times, to be passed down from parent to child. A traumatic event, such as the loss of a loved one, can lead to panic attacks, which can then lead to panic disorder.
If you have been diagnosed with panic disorder, it is important to remember you are not alone. Approximately 2.4 million Americans are affected by this condition, and there are professionals willing and able to help you. Treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or anti-anxiety medication, have been shown to work well with many afflicted by this disorder.