Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder
People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected and sudden feelings of terror or panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that come on quickly and reach their peak within minutes often mistaken as a heart attack. Attacks can occur unexpectedly or can be brought on by a trigger, such as a feared object or situation.
For people with panic disorder, in addition to experiencing frequent and unexpected panic attacks, at least one episode of the attack must follow a period of weeks (usually a month) of constant worry about having another attack, persistent fear of the consequences of the attack, fear of loosing control, and they often have had significant changes in their behavior such as avoiding situations that they think may trigger a panic attack. This experience must happen in the exception of drugs abuse or other substance use, a medical condition, or another mental health condition, such as social phobia or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Symptoms of Panic Attacks include but are not limited to:
- Heart palpitations, a pounding heartbeat, or an accelerated heartrate
- Sweating, Dizziness
- Trembling or shaking, Chills
- Sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking, chest pain
- Feelings of impending doom or death
- Fear of loss of control
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Feeling of unreality or detachment
Risk factors of Panic Attacks may include but not limited to:
- Proneness to experiencing negative emotions and anxiety sensitivity.
- Previous traumatic experiences and histories of sexual and physical abuse
- Interpersonal stressors or and stressors related to physical well-being.
- Negative experiences with illicit or prescription drugs, disease, or death in the family.
- Genetic factors although its implications is still unknown.