Panic attacks are a symptom of an anxiety disorder problem affecting millions of people around the world (about three million people in America alone). While they are not actually life-threatening, they can become a serious dilemma that leads to emotional crippling and a drastically lowered quality of life if left untreated. Learn to recognize the symptoms of panic attacks and if you believe you're suffering from an anxiety disorder - then seek the help you need.
What are the Symptoms?The following are symptoms of a panic attack. Not everyone will experience all of the symptoms each time.
- A pounding heart
- Sudden chills
- A sudden sense of impending doom
- Numb or tingling hands
- Chest pains
- Dizziness or light headedness
- Sick stomach
- Difficulty in breathing
- Sudden fear of death
- Sudden feeling of being in a dream-like state
- Sudden fear of losing control
It must be mentioned that some of these symptoms (like chest pains) can also be signs of serious physical problems. If you experience any of these symptoms, the first thing you should do is seek medical help immediately. Don't just assume it's a panic attack especially if it's the first time for you to experience any of these symptoms.
What are the Causes?Unfortunately, the answer to this question is unknown; however, there is a very good theory that is largely accepted. Every human being has a set of mental and physical mechanisms that allows him or her to respond to threat. In a panic attack, it is believed these mechanisms are triggered needlessly. Researchers are uncertain why this happens, nor do they know why some individuals are more susceptible than others. While panic attacks may have a genetic component (it has been found to run in families) many people develop it with no family history of the problem. Initial panic attacks are quite often caused by a physical illness, a serious bout of stress or even mood-altering medications.
How Can Panic Attacks be Treated?Panic attacks are treatable and there are a number of ways to remedy the disorder.
- Lifestyle changes
- A combination of any or all of the above
Lifestyle changes can often be the most difficult, but are also usually the most effective. Excessive alcohol consumption, use of hallucinogenic drugs, high stress, poor diet and lack of exercise has been known to induce or contribute to panic attacks. It may seem impossible to change the way you live, but if you're suffering from panic attacks, your lifestyle may be a key factor.
Panic attacks are waking nightmares for people who suffer from them. They cause fear, exhaustion and embarrassment. They can lead to a person being unable to leave his or her own home or irrationally avoiding certain locations (workplace, school, airports, etc. ). That's the bad news. The good news is anxiety disorders are treatable. Learn to recognize the signs of a panic attack and if you're experiencing any of those symptoms, seek out the help you need and reclaim your life.
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Will Sharp is a free lance writer and a full time researcher.