Panic Attacks: What You Need to Know

Panic attacks are defined as sudden, often immobilizing surges of fear that elicit physical reactions despite the absence of real, imminent danger or tangible cause. Panic attacks are, in essence, the body’s exaggerated response to otherwise innocuous situations. Panic attacks can occur anytime and cause the person to think they’re losing control, having a heart attack, or, in some cases, going to die.

Panic attacks, when they become persistent, may eventually lead to a diagnosis of panic disorder. Constant fear especially in anticipation of another attack can render a person unable to function normally, as they may just decide to steer clear of situations that they think can trigger their attacks.

If you are struggling with panic attacks, it pays to get a better insight into the condition, so you know how to prevent them from recurring and from taking over your life. Here are a few key things you should know about panic attacks.

•   Panic attacks have various triggers.

The exact cause of panic attacks remains unclear, but experts believe that some people are genetically predisposed to panic and that there are certain events that can also contribute to panic attacks.

They can also be triggered by certain medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, hypoglycemia, or sudden drug or medication withdrawal. Stress, personal conflicts, financial concerns, and the use of stimulant drugs, such as amphetamines and cocaine, can also trigger panic attacks in some people.

•   You need to seek mental health intervention.

When you start to notice that your panic attacks have become frequent and causing you to limit your interactions with the people around you, it proves prudent to speak with a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, who can recommend the appropriate course of treatment.

Your psychiatrist will likely recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you understand your own thought patterns that trigger the development of an attack and restructure these thought processes to help prevent attacks and mitigate their severity.

Your psychiatrist may also recommend exposure therapy, which is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. With exposure therapy, you will be acquainted with the sensations that co-occur with your panic, one at a time, in a closely monitored setting. With this approach, your psychiatrist will teach you effective ways to cope with those sensations. Exposure therapy may be utilized in conjunction with mindfulness techniques.

You may also have to take anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medications) as adjunctive therapy to either of the approaches mentioned above to help you take full control of your panic attacks.

•   You are not alone.

Panic attacks are quite common. In fact, approximately 30 percent of people have had at least one panic attack in their life. What this means is that there are many others who are living with the same condition as you do.

You can join support groups, which provide you with an opportunity to share your personal experiences and feelings and to learn first-hand information and coping strategies that can help you better manage your condition. Talking to other people in a support group helps reduce your anxiety (and eventually your panic attacks) and promotes your overall sense of well-being.

Panic Disorder Treatment in NY and CT

Don’t allow your panic attacks to cripple you. See our highly experienced mental health professional Dr. Mark Stracks here at Psy-Visions for a comprehensive evaluation and let us help you overcome them. We deliver the highest caliber of treatment for the full range of anxiety disorders—such as panic disorders— through cognitive behavioral therapy and medications.

To make an appointment with Dr. Stracks, call (718) 887-2918 or use our easy-to-fill-out contact form now.

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