Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are sudden episodes of intense anxiety (fear) characterized by their unexpectedness and debilitating. They can come on quickly and for no apparent reason. Panic attacks can be very frightening, but they’re not dangerous.

A panic attack usually lasts from one minute to one hour on average and happens two to four times a week. In some cases, panic attacks may seize for longer periods of time, only to return for no apparent reason. The severity of the attack can vary significantly from one person to another.

Panic disorder is not dangerous, but it may affect the quality of life. Many people become more and more anxious over time after repeated panic attacks.

Over time, patients may develop one or more phobias. They might start to avoid places and situations where a panic attack has happened. If someone suffers from panic disorder for a long time, they may begin to avoid planning and be afraid of traveling.

All this limits social and family life.  See Anxiety test

Panic attacks

According to research data, 1.9-3.6% of the population suffers from panic disorders, and according to some sources, up to 5%. Panic disorder occurs 2-3 times more often in women. Panic attacks are present not only in adults, but also in children and adolescents.

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Causes of Panic Attacks (Panic Disorder)

Many factors that cause panic attacks have been found.

The known causes of panic attacks that directly provoke their occurrence are the following:

  1. Psychogenic causes of panic attacks – originating in the mind or in mental or emotional conflict

  • Culminating conflict (divorce, quarrel with wife, divorce or divorce)
  • Acute stress (death of a loved one, illness or accident)
  • Abstract factors acting by the mechanism of identification or contrasts (films, books, etc.)

      2. Biological causes of panic attacks

  • Hormonal changes (pregnancy, childbirth, cessation of breastfeeding, menopause)
  • Beginning of sexual intercourse
  • Taking hormonal preparations
  • Abortion
  • Menstruation

      3. Physiological causes of panic attacks

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Meteorological factors
  • Excessive physical work

Symptoms of Panic Disorder

The panic disorder manifests at a young, socially active age, before the age of 30 to 35. Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder where you regularly have sudden attacks of panic or fear.

The main symptoms of panic disorder are symptoms of severe anxiety (panic attack) which is not limited to a specific situation or environment and are therefore unpredictable.

An unexplained, painful anxiety attack or panic attack is diagnosed in cases of a sudden fear attack.

Panic attack is often accompanied by a feeling of imminent death or anxiety and or a feeling of internal tension with symptoms associated with panic.

The presence of four or more of the symptoms listed below is necessary to characterize a condition as panic disorder:

  1. Rapid heartbeat
  2. Sweating
  3. Tremor, shivering
  4.  Feeling short of breath or choking
  5. Pain and discomfort in the left half of the chest
  6. Nausea and abdominal discomfort, sparse stools
  7. Dizziness, restlessness or swaying while walking, a feeling of lightness in the head or a state before losing consciousness
  8. A sense of derealization, depersonalization
  9. Fear of death, fear of losing one’s mind or doing uncontrolled action
  10. Feeling of numbness or tingling in the extremities
  11.  Feeling hot or cold
  12. Feeling of a lump in the throat
  13. Incorrect gait
  14. Impaired vision and hearing
  15. Spasms in the arms and legs

Clinical symptoms appear suddenly and reach a peak within 10 minutes. A panic attack lasts from 15 to 30 minutes, and in some patients, it may take longer.

Panic attacks occur mostly in active state (while walking), while they are extremely rare during sleep. Panic attacks tend to recur and become more frequent over time.

The frequency of attacks varies from one a day to one every few months. The average frequency is 2 to 4 during the week.

Since the attacks are extremely unpleasant, the constant fear of their occurrence is present.

Can I Have a Panic Attack Only Once?

A panic attack that happened once cannot be considered a disease.

Many people experience this condition at least once in their lifetime. In such a case, a panic attack is considered a physiological reaction to emotional stress.

Attention should be paid to the fact that in a real life-threatening situation, feelings of anxiety appear with corresponding somatic feelings and represent a normal protective reaction, preparing a person to fight a possible source of danger or escape from it.

Panic Disorder Diagnosis

For a thorough diagnosis of panic disorder disorder, it is necessary that several severe panic attacks occur during one month if the following conditions are met:

  • – The situation must not be related to real danger
  • – Attacks must not be limited to known and predicted situations
  • – Between attacks, the condition must be free of symptoms of anxiety

In addition to the above, panic attacks must be monitored (not less than a month), with the following symptoms:

  • Constant concern about their recurrence
  •  Unrest over the complication of the attack and their consequences
  • Significant changes in behavior related to attacks

The disease can develop over months and years, or it can develop quickly, during the day or week.