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Basic Understanding Of Panic Attack

Feb 7, 2008
Fear...heart palpitations...terror, a sense of impending doom...dizziness...fear of fear. The words used to describe panic disorder are often frightening. But there is great hope: Treatment can benefit virtually everyone who has this condition. It is extremely important for the person who has panic disorder to learn about the problem and the availability of effective treatments and to seek help.

In panic disorder, brief episodes of intense fear are accompanied by multiple physical symptoms (such as heart palpitations and dizziness) that occur repeatedly and unexpectedly in the absence of any external threat. These "panic attacks," which are the hallmark of panic disorder, are believed to occur when the brain's normal mechanism for reacting to a threat - the so-called "fight or flight" response - becomes inappropriately aroused. Most people with panic disorder also feel anxious about the possibility of having another panic attack and avoid situations in which they believe these attacks are likely to occur. Anxiety about another attack, and the avoidance it causes, can lead to disability in panic disorder.

The disorder typically begins in young adulthood, but older people and children can be affected. Women are affected twice as frequently as men. While people of all races and social classes can have panic disorder, there appear to be cultural differences in how individual symptoms are expressed.

A panic attack is something that is very important to understand. An alarming number of people suffer from panic attacks on a regular basis, and you may even be experiencing panic attacks and not even know it. Panic attacks can be incredibly frightening and may even make you feel as though you are dying. A panic attack can happen anywhere at any time, without giving you any type of advance warning. A panic attack may occur when you are alone, out with family and friends, or even wake you from a sound sleep. There are many different reasons that a panic attack may take place, but the most common explanation by far is stress.

We all experience stress from time to time, but as this stress builds up in the body, it can sometimes get to be overwhelming. Many people can deal with stress easily and not even have to worry about it, while for others their minds and bodies do not know what to do with themselves and this can end up resulting in a panic attack. Although stress may be one of the most major contributing factors to panic attacks, it is important to realize that they are no longer being dismissed as minor incidences but rather are recognized as being a potentially disabling but treatable condition.

There are actually quite a few different treatment methods that are available to help with panic attacks. Medication is one of the most commonly used treatment methods for panic attacks, and antidepressant medications are most commonly prescribed. This includes Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac as the top three antidepressants, although many others are available as well. Cognitive behavior therapy has also proven to be very effective at treating panic attacks. This is a type of therapy where you are taught how to better understand and deal with your panic attacks. The psychiatrist will work with you and help you to recognize the different things in life that tend to trigger your panic attacks, and learn how to deal with them so that they are not triggers in the future.

For instance if you are avoiding certain situations in life because of your panic attacks, this cognitive behavior therapy will help you to overcome this avoidance, which most likely is affecting your quality of life. Therapy should be a long term process and if you take it seriously you are likely to see some great results.
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