Having a panic attack is more common than you may have thought. Panic attacks are believed to affect 2.7% of the U.S. adult population. Within this group, 44.8% of the cases are classified as severe. So if you get them, you are not alone!
Perhaps you’re familiar with the feeling of simply going about your business, then out of nowhere – things start to go downhill fast.
You feel that sudden sense of dread, even if there is nothing to be afraid of. You find yourself wondering if you are losing control of your emotions and mind. Sometimes, this fear manifests itself into sweating, hot and cold flashes, or even chest pains. In time, you may find yourself less likely to leave home or go out in public. You’re constantly tense and waiting for another one of these awful episodes to take hold again.
Don’t feel that you need to brush these feelings off as a “bad day” or that you’re just being a worrywart. These, and a wide variety of other symptoms, are commonly associated with panic attacks.
To best figure out how to prepare and cope with the signs of a panic attack, we first need to understand what constitutes one. Let’s dive in.
Am I Experiencing a Panic Attack?
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America describe a full-blown panic attacks as episodes of heavy fear or discomfort. Generally, they reach their height within minutes, and can be defined by the onset of at least four of the following symptoms:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feelings of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
- Chills or heat sensations
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
- Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- Fear of dying
There are a few things to note from this list. First, only the last signs of a panic attack are psychological, as opposed to physiological. This leads to a lot of confusion because many of these physiological symptoms are shared with other ailments, including:
- thyroid issues,
- heart disease,
- and breathing problems.
Many first-time panic attack sufferers find themselves in an emergency room simply because they don’t understand what is happening.
Do I Have a Panic Disorder?
Another issue – even for those diagnosed with a panic disorder – is that they often live in fear of having a panic attack. This can lead to avoidance of situations because of fear of another attack. In turn, panic disorders can be extremely disruptive over time. All symptoms can occur during a single attack. Repeated panic attacks can have highly pronounced effects on the body and mind. These include:
- A weakened immune system
- The combination of less sleep and constant tension leaves the body at risk of infection.
- Heart and kidney issues
- Increased blood pressure can have negative effects on these vital organs.
- Depression and other related issues
- Depression and anxiety disorders can sometimes occur concurrently. You may find that on top of panic disorder symptoms, you experience common depression symptoms, like a loss of appetite.
Why Am I Having a Panic Attack?
According to science, there is not a single root cause of panic attacks. There is, however, intensive research showing how some factors may play a major role. Some of these include:
- a history of major stress, as well as,
- a change in the way that your brain is functioning, and
- the brain’s fight-or-flight response.
In addition, certain groups of people may be more at risk of panic attacks and panic disorders. Studies show that on average, women are more likely to have them than men. Attacks also tend to start in the late teens or early adulthood. On top of that, past incidences can also increase the risk of panic disorders:
- Recent major life changes, like marriage, divorce, or childbirth
- Smoking or heavy intake of caffeine
- Family history of panic attacks or disorders
- Traumatic events like serious accidents
Events of a panic attack generally take place over an intense ten-minute period. While it is a commonly held belief that they can strike without warning, this may not be entirely true. This study shows that there may be more subtle, imperceptible signs at the physiological level. Scientists state that panic attack symptoms can take place as early as 60 minutes before the defined onset of an attack. One of the most notable early signs is low carbon dioxide levels: chronic hyperventilation. These levels spike before the onset of panic attacks. They are often accompanied with chest pain and/or a fear of dying.
How Do I Stop Having Panic Attacks?
The nature of anxiety-based disorders means that there is not one set way to deal with them. However, one common starting point is therapy. A popular methodology is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on trying to help you break down the thought processes going on in your mind; and then trying to figure out what is leading to the negative behavior. This is especially valuable for panic disorders. It helps to break the cycle of constantly being fearful about a potential upcoming attack.
- more exercise and more sleep
- a balanced, nutritious diet
- cutting out smoking
- drinking less caffeine
- cutting out potentially harmful behavior
While everyone is different, promoting these positive changes has been proven to be equally positive for ALL types of people.
Another form of relief form is herbal supplements. Several ingredients from the natural world have a long tradition of helping mitigate feelings of stress. We here at Tranquility Labs, have our own high-quality and bioavailable Ayurvedic Ashwagandha 1000. Ashwagandha has been shown in numerous studies to reduce stress.
Our research-backed and world-renown, Tranquilene Total Calm, provides a full spectrum of calm-promoting nutrients. Ingredients ranging from stress-fighting Ashwagandha and Passion Flower, to vitamins Calcium and Magnesium.
Signs of a Panic Attack, In Review
Anxiety-based disorders often can blend into each other, but it’s important to understand what sets panic attacks apart. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:
- Panic attack signs are largely physiological, combined with feelings of detachment from reality or a fear of dying.
- Panic attacks generally take place over a 10-minute period, but repeated attacks can lead to other complications.
- There is not a sole cause for panic disorders, but there are risk factors worth looking into.
- There is more than one solution. Therapy and lifestyle changes are two of the easiest ways shown to have positive effects on panic attack sufferers.
Want to share your own stories of working with panic attacks or want more information? Start the conversation by leaving a comment in the field below!