10 things you should know about panic attacks

20150411_171524Panic attacks consist a psychological disorder with intense physical and mental symptoms which has begun or it is going to begin in 4% of peoples’ lives around the world. Every day we read or hear through media people talking about their experiences – their first thoughts, their emotions and physical senses – during the period of intense and frequent panic attacks and usually they explain in which way they managed to control and get over intense symptoms of panic attacks and returned back to their normal routine.

Nowadays, you can find a huge variety of information, details and stories regarding panic attacks. Today, I will refer 10 basic things that you should know about panic attacks in order to start seeing the “dragon” inside you less horrifying.

  1. Panic attacks are more often experienced by women than men and mainly by people between 25 to 40 years old (of course panic attacks could begin earlier or later in someone’s life).

  2. A panic attack may begin after a specific reason (e.g. a depression state or a phobia) or not. Most of the times a panic attack is a result of a long period of stress and psychological pressure (e.g. a big change or a serious dilemma), but it is also possible a really anxious person to start experiencing panic attacks without a specific reason. Moreover, someone’s track record should be checked to be identified a possible heredity which could play an important role to the appearance of panic attacks.

  3. A panic attack usually lasts some minutes (5-10) but some symptoms could last more time.
  4. The usual symptoms of a panic attack are: heart palpitations, stomach or chest pain, dizziness, nausea, sense there is not oxygen in a room, intense trembling and numbness on hands or mouth, intense feeling of cold or hot, fear that something bad is going to happen and sense of lack of control, depersonalization, strong sense of madness or even death. In addition, if someone searches intensively he/she will find many other mentioned symptoms and in general we cannot say that panic attacks begin in the same way to all the people that experience them. Some people describe how they experienced panic attacks in the following video:

  5. The fear that a panic attack could “return” again and again and the continuous waiting of this specific phenomenon are considered as symptoms of panic disorder which is included in the anxiety disorders (someone who wants to deal with it should ask help from a psychologist or a psychiatrist).

  6. People who have panic attacks usually tend to avoid specific situations or areas (e.g. a University class or a super-market), as they suffer from agoraphobia and claustrophobia. In order someone to prevent linking panic attacks with specific people, places or conditions he/she should speak with a mental health specialist. He/she should understand that a panic attack is not connected with anything specific, it could happen anywhere and of course it may never happen again in the same place, with the same people and the same conditions.

  7. Nowadays, panic attacks can be treated in three ways: with medication (usually antidepressants), or psychotherapy (usually cognitive-behavioral therapy) or with breathing-relaxing-concentration exercises as mindfulness therapy suggests. More often, the combination of therapeutic methods leads to better results.

  8. It is wrong to believe that people who experience panic attacks are not able to control themselves and regulate serious personal situations. Most of the times the truth is really different: Panic attacks are experienced by people that are asked to deal with serious and difficult projects which demand a high level of skills. The sense of high responsibility and their need to perfectly accomplish their tasks and their goals could cause them more stress than the usual one and probably that is why panic attacks begin.

  9. During the treatment period people often feel really weak and they believe that they won’t feel again as good as before, when they were strong and healthy. These thoughts are related to the high level of stress that these people still experiencing but also to the fear that panic attacks will come back. What people that have panic attacks should know is that they never stopped being strong and that slowly-slowly they will feel again some confidence, a sense of power and control as they used to feel. Until then they should take as much rest they can (physical and mental), they should try to be indifferent to pointless situations which could cause them more anxiety without a good reason. Moreover, they should deeply understand that panic attacks began after a period that they pushed themselves probably more than it was necessary.

  10. Breathing-relaxing exercises play a really important role to everyday stress management. Probably someone who experiences panic attacks cannot relax during the appearance of the phenomenon (someone should wait for the symptoms to come and go while he/she can turn his/her attention somewhere else e.g. watch time passing on a watch/clock). When the symptoms of panic attack will decrease he/she should try some relaxation-concentration exercises with an emphasis to breathing which could significantly increase well-being of many people. Nowadays, there are a lot of mental health specialists that apply Mindfulness techniques (Positive Psychology) to their clients in personal and group sessions. In these sessions therapists and Mindfulness coaches teach to people various relaxation techniques to be able to deal with stress, negative feelings and thoughts in the best way.

Learn more about panic-attacks:

– Panic attacks and panic disorders

– The key to overcoming panic attacks

– Panic attacks


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