Panic Attack

Description. Symptoms. Treatment. Recommendations.

Panic attacks are part of anxiety disorders. Although in modern society anxiety is an almost inherent component. What we call anxiety disorders are different from the usual phenomenon by being more intense, lasting longer affecting the people's life.

Causes of Panic Attacks

What are the causes of panic attacks?

The genetic and biological determinants of the panic attack are modest. It has been found that decreasing carbon dioxide and bicarbonate concentrations are often found in people with panic attacks.

Symptoms of panic attacks.

  • Physical symptoms: palpitations, tremors, shortness of breath or croup, pain, or precordial discomfort, choking, nausea, numbness, vertigo, abdominal discomfort, paraesthesia, chills or heat waves.
  • Cognitive symptoms: derealizing (feeling of unreality), depersonalization (self-detachment), fear of death, fear of loss of control. It should be noted that it is not mandatory for all of these symptoms to occur at the same time. After the first panic attack (which is the worst) the patient will experience, there are thoughts, fears about the possibility of a new episode, and avoiding situations that could lead to the recurrence of specific symptoms.

Diagnosis of panic attacks

 The diagnosis of panic attack is made by the psychiatrist after psychiatric assessment, in conjunction with the psychological assessment made by a clinical psychologist, in accordance with the Manual of Diagnosis and Statistics of Mental Disorders.

Panic disorder is the disorder in which we have to deal with the presence of unintended, recurrent panic attacks followed by at least a month of persistent concern about not having another attack or possible consequences of that attack.

The diagnosis is only made after eliminating the possible physiological causes of the symptomatology. Thus, potential problems of the cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, auditory, neurological, haematological system are investigated.


The treatment of panic attacks

  • may be medically intervene at the advice of the psychiatrist and/or psychotherapeutic physician.
  • behavioural strategies, relaxation techniques and distraction.
  • cognitive strategies to identify and challenge dysfunctional thoughts that lead to panic.
  • there is also an emphasis during the therapeutic process on the development of coping mechanisms to improve stress management.

What complications can occur after panic attacks?

  • Evolution of panic is usually chronic, therefore, attacks with limited symptoms are more common. Some individuals may have episodic accesses with years of remission between them. It is important to note that panic attacks do not lead to the death of the patient.

What recommendations are made for panic attacks?

If the diagnosis of panic attacks is present, the following actions are recommended for the patient: to reduce the consumption of exciting substances, to exercise regularly, to sleep at least 8 hours per night, to hydrate properly and to reserve time for active rest - walks, social interactions, the development of hobbies.

If you experience any of the symptoms of panic attacks, it is advisable to call a psychotherapist.

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