G E N E R A L
This phrase is not too uncommon nowadays. A panic attack can happen to a(ny) person, when they get triggered.
When a person is in a stressful situation, they tend to have pressure as well. But sometimes, hormones don't allow you to control yourself and there is adrenaline rush. This can also be termed as "fight or flight" situation where one is positive reaction and the other is negative.
There are a few people who tend to get a really negative reaction. This is not only pertained to a stressful situation, but also when they have triggers - which can vary from one another.
What's a panic attack? Here's a definition :
Panic attacks are periods of intense fear or apprehension of sudden onset accompanied by bodily or cognitius symptoms (such as heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, feelings of unreality) of variable duration from minutes to hours.
This is a good time to say that panic attacks are not dangerous and should not cause any physical harm. Repeated pain attacks are considered a symptom of a Panic Disorder.
S Y M P T O M S
• Sufferers often repot fear of dying or heart attack, and flashing visions.
• Some suffer from 'tunnel vision' due to blood flow leaving the head to the critical parts of the body in defence.
• A panic attack is a response of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).
• Common symptoms/signs are :
-shortness of breath
-hot or cold flashes
-sweating and nausea.
C A U S E S
i. Biological factors :
We have so many hormones controlling our body and instincts. They are involuntary and cannot be controlled by us consciously. Hormonal imbalance can play a part in triggering a panic attack.
Conditions like hyperthyroidism, hypoglycemia, mitral valve prolapse etc., can cause or aggravate a panic attack.
Studies show that inheritance can play a role in who can get a panic attack.
Psychological and stressful life events can take a toll on brain, causing your body to take on the panic mode.
ii. Alcohol and smoking :
Tobacco smoking can increase the risk of developing panic disorder with or without agoraphobia.
Smoking started in adolescence or early adulthood particularly increase the risk of panic disorder.
Utilization of alcohol or sedatives generally make the symptoms worse.
iii. Caffeine :
A number of clinical studies have shown a positive association between caffeine ingestion and panic disorder and/or anxious effects.
People who have panic disorder are more sensitive to the anxiety-provoking effects of caffeine. One of the major anxiety-provoking effects of caffeine is an increase in heart rate.
D I A G N O S I S
The DSM-IV-TR criteria provide the following symptoms as the dominant symptoms :
- sudden onset of palpitations
-feelings of unreality (depersonalization or derealization)
-secondary fear of dying, losing control, or going mad.
T R E A T M E N T
Panic disorder can be a serious health problem where in some cases it can be successfully treated - although there is no known cure.
The treatment of panic disorder is very similar to that of depression.
Cognitive behavioural therapy, positive self talk, psychotherapy etc., are most widely used methods. For details, look into the previous chapter.
O T H E R
Panic disorder does not really have a "cure" but with the help of positive self talk to friends, family or even the psychologist can help very well.
In the cases of children, parental involvement is very important. They'll have to support their their wards. In the assessment, parents are usually tested out as well for prevention.
When the people around the concerned patient are loving, patient and supportive, the person can recover very soon from panic disorder.