Panic Attack: Symptoms And Treatment


Photo by Valentina Silva

People who suffer from panic disorder have sudden attacks of fear which last for several minutes or even longer and they are called panic attacks. Simply put, panic attacks are fear of losing control even when there is no real threat. Also, during a panic attack a person may have very strong physical reaction.

He or she may feel like having a heart attack. A lot of people with panic disorder are worried that they may have a panic attack, since it can occur at any time. A person who suffers from panic disorder may fell ashamed and become discouraged because he or she cannot have normal life and do normal things, such as driving or going to the mall.

Usually, panic disorder begins in early adulthood. Women have more often panic disorder than men. However, if someone has had a panic attack, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she will develop panic disorder.

Signs and symptoms

Usually, panic attack occurs when you are away from home, but it can also occur at any time and anywhere. Someone can have one while he or she is walking down the street, sitting on the couch at home, or driving in car. The signs and symptoms usually develop suddenly and they reach their peak within ten minutes.

However, some panic attacks may last even longer. A panic attack combines signs and symptoms as follow: a racing heart or heart palpitations, shaking or trembling, feeling detached from your surroundings, sweating, feeling light-headed, faint, or dizzy, fearing of losing control, going crazy or dying, shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, nausea or upset stomach, tingling sensations or numbness.


Sometimes whole families have panic disorder, even though no one knows why some people have it and others don’t. Some researchers found that some part of the brain are involved in anxiety and fear. Other researchers think that people with this disorder misinterpret harmless sensations as threats.

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Panic attacks are treatable conditions. They can be successfully treated with a series of therapy sessions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

The most effective form of treatment for panic attacks is cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy focuses on the thinking patterns and behaviors which are triggering the panic attacks. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to see your fears in a more realistic light.

Example: if you had a panic attack while you are driving your car, what is the worst thing which might happen? You might have to pull over, but you are not likely to have a heart attack or crash your car. Once your learn that nothing really terrible is going to happen, your experience of panic attack becomes a little bit less terrifying.

Medication treatment

Some symptoms of panic disorder ca be controlled or reduced by medication. However, this doesn’t resolve the problem. Medication can be useful, but it shouldn’t be the only treatment. Medications are more effective if you combine them with other treatments, such as lifestyle changes and therapy, which address the underlying causes of panic attack.

Medications used for panic attacks are:

Benzodiazepines – These anti-anxiety drugs are very quickly and the usually act within 30 minutes to an hour. If you take these drugs during a panic attack you will provide yourself with rapid relief of symptoms. However, these drugs are highly addictive and have serious symptoms. So, you should take Benzodiazepines with caution.

Antidepressants – You have to take these drugs continuously, because it takes several weeks before they start to work, and this means not just during a panic attacks.