Have you ever experienced an abrupt episode of a strong fear and a sense of control loss? People who experienced a panic attack usually describe it as an overwhelming and terrifying experience. A panic attack is an unexpected and intense downpour of fear. The intensity of fear is usually immobilizing and exhausting. Panic attacks often occur suddenly, without any warning, sometimes without a clear cause. What is more, some people report experiencing a panic attack while relaxed or even sleeping.
A panic attack may be a one-time manifestation and may occur under any circumstances. However, many people who suffer from panic attacks experience recurrent episodes. Repeated panic attacks are often generated by a specific situation such as speaking in public or being in the crowd. If such situation has triggered a panic attack before, it is likely that it will cause it again. Whether it is a one-time occurrence or repeat episodes, panic attacks usually strike suddenly and unexpectedly and can be treated by a professional counselor.
Panic attacks usually begin in young adulthood. But, they can start at any time during adulthood. Furthermore, women are more prone to panic attacks than men. A person under a panic attack usually feels that he or she is having a heart attack, losing control, or even dying. One of a panic attack’s distinctive features is the fact that the feelings experienced during the attack are not proportional to the actual situation.
Are Panic Attacks a Sign of Illness?
Sometimes, panic attacks occur as a part of a different condition, such as panic disorder, anxiety, agoraphobia, social phobia, or depression. However, a person may experience one or even more panic attacks but otherwise be perfectly healthy. Although very upsetting, a panic attack is a treatable condition. There are effective treatments for panic attack available, as well as self-coping strategies you can use to reduce your symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack
If you have ever experienced a panic attack, you most likely experienced some of the following symptoms:
- Feeling of dizziness and weakness
- Trembling or shaking
- Nausea or/and upset stomach
- Chilly sweat
- Hot or cold flashes
- Shortness of breath
- Increased heart rate
- Numbness in hands and fingers or tingling sensations (paresthesia)
- Sense of terror
- Breathing troubles, hyperventilation
- Chest pain
- Fear of losing control, going crazy, or dying
These physical symptoms of a panic attack are caused by your body’s flight-or-fight response to a perceived threat. The signs and symptoms of a panic attack usually develop unexpectedly and don’t last more than a few minutes – a panic attack peaks in about 10 to 15 minutes and mostly ends within half an hour. A very few of panic episodes last an hour or longer.
Nonetheless, panic attacks are exhausting and discouraging. It is therefore important to keep in mind that panic attack help is available. Contact one of our Cary Counselors today to discuss panic and how treatment may help.
Do Panic Attacks always progress into Panic Disorder?
Some people experience one or a few episodes of panic attacks without further complications. However, some people experience repeated, frequent panic attacks combined with persistent anxiety over suffering further attacks. In this case, we are talking about panic disorder. Additionally, people who suffer from panic disorder usually develop different behavior patterns to avoid situations that trigger a panic attack (avoiding open places if you keep experiencing panic attacks outside, for example).
Panic Attack Counseling
Education is essential to psychotherapy of panic. Counseling helps you learn about your physical symptoms during a panic attack and provides necessary support in coping with your symptoms. The most effective treatment of panic attacks includes cognitive behavioral therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy for panic disorder.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT focuses on dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors that cause your panic attacks and helps you change them and look at your fears more realistically. For instance, your therapist will help you understand that, no matter how overwhelming a panic attack is, nothing disastrous will actually happen. Once you learn that nothing terrible is going to happen, the experience of panic becomes less disturbing.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy
The main aim of EMDR for panic disorder is to help you process through potential factors that contributed to anxiety and panic in your life. EMDR allows you to remove the negative thoughts and feelings attached to certain triggers. Your therapist may work with you to identify triggers and outline how you would like to respond once processing is complete. EMDR therapy is an effective treatment available at Integrity Counseling & Wellness, which requires special training and proves to be a rapid and thorough treatment for many concerns.
If these any of these symptoms apply to you, or if you have further questions, call (919) 379-5788 today to discuss how we can help you move forward!