Panic attack treatment
Dr. Ikechukwu Ogbu, MDOnline mental health consult
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About Panic attacks
Panic attacks are sudden episodes of intense fear that can trigger strong physical reactions in response to ordinary situations that present no danger. In most cases, the symptoms of a panic attack will go away within a few moments. These episodes are very common; in fact, nearly 11% of Americans experience a panic attack every year. If you experience regular and unexpected panic attacks, however, you may have a condition known as panic disorder, which may be caused by worrying about having a panic attack.
- Fear of losing control
- Fear of death or danger
- Pounding heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Trembling or shaking
- Difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain and cramping
There is no common cause of panic attacks or panic disorder.
- Genetics: If your family has a history of anxiety or panic attacks, you may be more likely to experience them too.
- Stress: Stressful situations may trigger panic attacks.
- Substance abuse: Alcoholism, smoking, drug use, and even excess caffeine intake can trigger the symptoms of a panic attack.
- Mental health issues: Individuals who struggle with depression, or other anxiety disorders may be more likely to experience panic attacks.
While most panic attacks will go away within a few minutes after symptoms begin, recurrent panic attacks can lead to mental and physical complications.
- Phobias (such as agoraphobia - the fear of places or situations that may cause anxiety)
- Substance abuse (such as excessive alcohol use)
- Avoidance of social settings/ situations
Many people are embarrassed to seek treatment for panic attacks. With proper treatment, however, most cases of panic disorder and panic attacks are easily treatable.
Treatment for panic attacks will depend on the severity and regularity of your episodes. Below is a list of common treatment options for panic attacks. During your appointment, talk to your provider about the treatment plan that’s right for you.