How To Identify a Panic Attack

A panic attack is a kind of mental state wherein a person abruptly feels a huge amount of fear or dread in a particular situation, event or place.  This usually causes great discomfort and intense apprehension about something or someone.  This attack lasts for a minimum of ten minutes but it really varies from person to person.  There are a lot of causes for this horrifying state to occur.  It can be triggered by a phobia, medication, addiction withdrawal, post-traumatic stress, chronic illness, short term causes (such as death in the family), long term causes (like genetics) and other stimulants like smoking (nicotine) and caffeine. 

Statistically, it is one of the most serious mental problems in the United States.  There are over 60 million Americans who have experienced panic attacks at some point in their lives.  Studies showed that individuals between 15 to 19 years of age go through their first attack and it often leads to a nervous breakdown.  If left unaddressed, it can result to a heart attack, stroke or severe agoraphobia (fear of public places).  Fortunately, there are several ways that you can do to successfully identify a panic attack.  Read on to learn more.

  • Palpitations and chest pains.  You will usually experience a sudden increase of heart rate during the onset of a panic attack.  The abrupt occurrence will be a bit painful especially on your chest that you will begin to think that you are having a heart attack.
  • Sweating, trembling and shaking.  As the attack progresses, you will start to feel cold sweats (such as clammy hands).  You will then feel yourself trembling without any reason that can escalate to severe shaking of your whole body.
  • Difficulty in breathing.  Breathing will be hard, like your lungs are starting to close up on you.  This experience is very similar to an asthma attack.
  • Nausea and lightheadedness.  You will begin to see blurry or hazy visions and you will start to feel nauseated.  Fainting or suddenly passing out unconsciously is quite common.
  • Confusion/blank mind.  You will experience a complete block out and you will have no memory whatsoever about what just happened for the last 10 to 15 minutes.  You will then be confused and frustrated.
  • The need to escape.  You have this need to get away from the situation.  You think that escape is your only hope and that it is a matter of life and death that you leave immediately.

In case of a panic attack, it is important that you comfort the person very calmly, with a low soothing voice.  You can also have the person breathe in a paper bag.  It is said to be a quick and effective treatment.  However, this breathing style is heavily criticized by many doctors due to the fact that it greatly limits the oxygen intake hence, further increasing the level of Carbon Dioxide which is the main cause of a panic attack in the first place.  Other treatments include medications and psychotherapies.  For best results, it would be best if you consult a psychiatrist immediately.  Just carefully read these tips to effectively identify a panic attack.  Good luck!


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