Each year panic attacks affect 1 out of 63 Americans. A 1/4 of the people who suffer from depression also suffer from panic attacks. The attacks are unprovoked and come suddenly without notice. It is very hard for people to deal with them and I will be explaining more in detail what they are. A panic attack is a sudden, intense experience of fear coupled with an overwhelming feeling of danger, accompanied by physical symptoms of anxiety, such as: a pounding heart, sweating, and rapid breathing. People who suffer from a panic disorder may repeatedly have panic attacks (at least several a month), and fear having they will have an attack at any given moment. Panic disorder is a chronic condition that can be very hard on a person’s family, work, and social life. The first attack usually happens without warning. A person may be driving their car, talking with friends, or even watching T.V. and an attack could strike. Pounding heart, sweating palms, and a feeling of impending doom are common feelings before the attack happens. The attack may only last for a minute or even seconds but the fear and emotional pain can be very disturbing. People who suffer from panic attacks are always afraid that they will suffer from another one after the first one strikes.
After their fear increases and the attacks get worse people avoid places where attacks occurred in the past. In extremely severe cases the victim may refuse to leave their house in fear that they may have an attack. This fear is known as agoraphobia. People with untreated panic attacks may have problems getting to work, or even keeping a job. If they go on for longer periods of time without being treated it can lead to depression, substance abuse, and even suicide. As for symptoms scientist’s aren’t sure what exactly what causes panic attacks but they believe it may be inherited. Some experts believe that they are caused due to a hypersensitive nervous system that responds to nonexistent threats. They also believe that it may be caused by a chemical imbalance. People who suffer are more likely to get one at a younger age due to the outside stresses they face with growing up. The symptoms found during the attack include: * Fear of losing control or going crazy. Diagnosing a panic attack can be confusing for doctors because their symptoms are easily confused with other conditions. A thorough physical examination is needed in order to rule out other medical conditions.
Since the symptoms are so closely related to heart problems it is hard for doctors to defer between the two. Treatment is usually done using cognitive-behavioral therapy. It usually last for a few months and has to be done repeatedly. It teaches the patients how to identify and change your feelings about the fears you hold within yourself, how to calm down and breathe slowly by doing several breathing exercises, how to come face to face with your panic situation and gradually let go of it, and to control your rapid heart rate. At the same time, people may find that medication can help reduce or prevent panic attacks by changing the way certain chemicals interact in the brain. People who begin taking the medication realize within two months if the medication is working. There are several kinds of medications being given now and they are: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s).
They are antidepressants like Paxil or Prozac, some are approved specifically for panic. Next is Tricyclic antidepressants such as Anafranil. Also prescriptions of benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Klonopin are given for the purpose of panic. Lastly patients can make lifestyle changes to help keep panic at ease, such as eliminating caffeine, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, and marijuana. One approach used in several medical centers focuses on teaching patients how to accept their fears instead of dreading them. In this method, the therapist repeatedly stimulates a person’s body sensations that can trigger fear. Eventually they learn how to deal with their fears. Patients who respond well to this almost have a complete absence of the attacks. I believe that day after day more advancements in medicine are being made to help those thousands of people who suffer from panic attacks.
Without these advancements, the people in need would never get the proper treatment they deserve. Having to face your fears and overcoming the attacks can be very frightening and hard for those who are willing to change their lives for the better. I respect and look up to others who are strong enough to make it. Getting over the attack can be just as hard as having them. People who do not suffer from these attacks don’t understand how hard it is for others to go through this. The victim doesn’t ask for them to happen, in some cases their is nothing you can do to prevent them from coming. It can be a never ending battle that a person must face everyday. Having to go through life with all that pain can cause a lot of problems not only for the person suffering but, all that surround them as well. The first step to healing is realizing that you in fact do have a problem and after that all you can do is work hard to think positively and most importantly control and overcome your fears.