Panic attacks are sudden intense feelings of fear, anxiety, and discomfort that happen within a few minutes, it is often characterized by palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, nausea, and intense fear. It is a psychological condition that involves a sense of unreality, fear of the unknown or doom, and a heightened consciousness of one’s environment. Panic attacks are brief, lasting for about 5 to 10 minutes, however, they can lead to panic disorder, which is a condition where an individual experiences panic attacks often, and has a fear of having more attacks, this can affect the individual’s psychological health and daily life.
According to research, there is no exact cause for panic attacks, however, the brain and nervous system play a central role in how we process fear and anxiety, according to studies, this can be the root cause of this condition. Also, chemical imbalances in cortisol and serotonin can be a factor. Family history, mental health conditions, and adverse childhood experiences can all contribute to the development of panic attacks and panic disorders. However, panic attacks can be triggered by several experiences, they could be intense stress, experiencing a traumatic event, illness, or a change of environment, and fear or phobia for something.
There are several ways to manage and treat panic attacks, the first is to seek counseling, there are different types of counseling an individual can seek such as cognitive behavioral therapy, and exposure therapy. This therapy aims to help you change the way you see challenging or frightening situations, it helps you identify your triggers and it helps you find out what to do when a panic attack starts. Certain antidepressant medications can make panic attacks less frequent and less severe, antidepressants such as benzodiazepines treat and prevent panic attacks, they also help with anxiety attacks.
Other forms of treatment include deep breathing, which involves breathing through the nose and slowly exhaling, this provides a sense of calm, relaxation, and control over your feelings. Some panic attacks can cause a feeling of separation from reality, it is vital to practice mindfulness, this involves focusing your attention on the present, recognizing your state, and then meditating, it helps relax you and reduce stress. Light exercise such as walking is another way to treat panic attacks it helps clear your mind and reduces your chances of getting panic attacks.
To lower your risk of having a panic attack, avoid caffeine, alcohol, and smoking. Regular exercise can help you manage stress, relieve tension, and boost your mood. Eat healthy and always talk to your healthcare provider before taking an antidepressant. Panic attacks though not harmful can affect your mental health, if you notice any symptoms of panic attacks, seek help from your healthcare provider or a therapist, they will help you overcome your fears and recommend treatment options for you.