Panic attacks are as intense as they sound. They’re acute episodes of irrational fear or terror, making you feel like you’re under a threat or danger even though it’s not the case in reality. Experiencing a panic attack is a frightening and paralyzing experience, primarily because it is almost always, sudden.
Anyone can experience a panic attack. While some might experience once or twice (usually under stressful circumstances) in their lifetimes, people suffering from panic disorders and other similar anxiety disorders tend to experience recurring, sudden, and fierce panic attacks. When experiencing a panic attack, one might feel extreme discomfort, intense fear, a sense of threat, and a general inability to act upon the feelings.
A panic attack can often be so severe in nature that the person experiencing it might fear that they’re dying. It is also, often, misunderstood as a heart attack as it increases your heartbeat, makes you sweat excessively, and renders you immobile. The unpredictable nature of panic attacks can make a person worried or even paranoid about experiencing another attack.
What Causes A Panic Attack?
A panic attack can either arise from a pattern or a trigger or can even strike without any triggers. While standalone attacks are mostly unanticipated (without triggers), there is a good chance that a stressful situation might have caused it too. However, for those who are suffering from panic disorders, things can get more complicated.
For people suffering from panic disorders, triggers can become a sort of a cycle. Let’s say a person experiences a panic attack when they’re in a closed room, this can either be from a phobia they have developed due to an anxiety disorder or it can develop into a phobia, out of the fear of experiencing another attack when they face similar situations in the future. Thus, even the most harmless activities, when associated with the experience of a panic attack, can turn into triggers down the line.
Other Causes Of Panic Attacks
Panic attacks may also arise due to mental illnesses apart from panic disorders. Post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder are some of the mental illnesses that can make a person vulnerable to panic attacks or disorders.
The experience and fear of panic attacks make people vulnerable to irrational fears and paranoia. This can eventually even affect the day to day lives and normal functionalities of a person as they can go to unreasonable extents to avoid any triggers or perceived triggers.
While experiencing one or two panic attacks need not be a pressing concern, it is important to reach out to a certified mental health professional when it becomes recurring and frequent.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Panic Attack:
The degree or intensity of a panic attack may differ from one attack to another and differs from person to person. Though the attacks are unpredictable, there are a set of common symptoms that one might experience during a panic attack:
- Loss of control, or fear of loss of control.
- A sense of dread or doom.
- Fear of death or danger.
- Pounding heart and shortness of breath.
- Excessive sweating and trembling.
- Chest pains and abdominal cramps.
- Headaches and dizziness.
- Nausea and stomach-churning.
- Chills or hot flashes
- Tightness in the throat.
- Immobility or numbness.
It is not necessary that you would experience all the symptoms at once, it is important to take notice of the situation at hand and check whether they are experiencing a few or more such symptoms. If you are indeed experiencing these signs, please reach out to a mental health professional at the earliest.