Panic Attack Overview
A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.
Many people have just one or two panic attacks in their lifetimes, and the problem goes away, perhaps when a stressful situation ends. But if you’ve had recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and spent long periods in constant fear of another attack, you may have a condition called panic disorder.
Although panic attacks themselves aren’t life-threatening, they can be frightening and significantly affect your quality of life.
What Causes Panic Attacks?
It’s not known what causes panic attacks or panic disorder, but these factors may play a role:
- Major stress
- A temperament that is more sensitive to stress or prone to negative emotions
- Certain changes in the way parts of your brain function
Panic attacks may come on suddenly and without warning at first, but over time, they’re usually triggered by certain situations.
Some research suggests that your body’s natural fight-or-flight response to danger is involved in panic attacks. For example, if a grizzly bear came after you, your body would react instinctively. Your heart rate and breathing would speed up as your body prepared for a life-threatening situation. Many of the same reactions occur in a panic attack. But it’s unknown why a panic attack occurs when there’s no obvious danger present.
Panic Attack Symptoms
Panic attacks typically begin suddenly, without warning. They can strike at any time — when you’re driving a car, at the mall, sound asleep, or in the middle of a business meeting. You may have occasional panic attacks, or they may occur frequently.
Panic attacks have many variations, but symptoms usually peak within minutes. You may feel fatigued and worn out after a panic attack subsides.
Panic attacks typically include some of these signs or symptoms:
- Sense of impending doom or danger
- Fear of loss of control or death
- Rapid, pounding heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
- Hot flashes
- Abdominal cramping
- Chest pain
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- The feeling of unreality or detachment
One of the worst things about panic attacks is the intense fear that you’ll have another one. You may fear to have panic attacks so much that you avoid certain situations where they may occur.
Panic Attack Complications
Left untreated, panic attacks and panic disorder can affect almost every area of your life. You may be so afraid of having more panic attacks that you live in a constant state of fear, ruining your quality of life.
Complications that panic attacks may cause or be linked to include:
- Development of specific phobias, such as fear of driving or leaving your home
- Frequent medical care for health concerns and other medical conditions
- Avoidance of social situations
- Problems at work or school
- Depression, anxiety disorders and other psychiatric disorders
- Increased risk of suicide or suicidal thoughts
- Alcohol or other substance misuses
- Financial problems
For some people, panic disorder may include agoraphobia — avoiding places or situations that cause you anxiety because you fear being unable to escape or get help if you have a panic attack. Or you may become reliant on others to be with you in order to leave your home.
What is the most effective treatment for panic attacks?
Utilizing the latest findings in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, MindLAB Life Coaching has developed a state-of-the-art program that serves as an alternative to panic attack treatments that are antiquated and DO NOT WORK.
This non-invasive treatment involves using your brain’s natural ability to change, neuroplasticity, its own neural connectivity, and its inherent ability to generate new, much healthier connections, to abate and many times abolish panic attack disorders.
At MindLAB Life Coaching we use the latest and most innovative techniques to teach you how to regulate your brain to “normal” patterns all on your own. It’s almost like a workout for your brain by training your brain to be stronger and healthier.