A panic attack, sometimes referred to as an anxiety attack, is a period of intense fear that can include various physical and mental symptoms. People who experience panic attacks on a regular basis are said to have a panic disorder.
Panic attacks are real and experienced by many people, but some don't seek treatment because of embarrassment. However, treatments are available that can help many people who experience panic attacks.
Symptoms and Complications
A panic attack happens quickly, often reaching the peak of the intense feelings in just a few minutes. Though it can include a variety of symptoms, a true panic attack generally includes four or more telltale signs. These can include fear of dying, a sense of imminent danger, loss of mental control, an urgent need to escape a situation or the sensation that things don’t feel real. Physical symptoms are common, too, and can include rapid heartbeat, sweating, shortness of breath, a choking feeling, chest pain, trembling, dizziness, nausea, chills or other sensations.
Over time, panic attacks can lead to other health complications. People who experience them sometimes become agoraphobic and avoid certain settings or other people. The attacks may accompany other health conditions, as well, including depression, substance abuse and asthma.
Treatment of Panic Attacks
Often, a combination of therapy and medication can help those who experience panic attacks. Through therapy, people can learn self-help strategies that can help prevent or manage panic attacks. For medication, doctors usually prescribe an antidepressant. Successful strategies vary from person to person, though, so it’s best to work closely with a doctor to determine the best course of action.
SOURCE: Anxiety and Depression Association of America