A panic attack is a sudden and unexpected situation that is characterized by a sudden feeling of intense fear or discomfort. Panic attacks usually last a few minutes, but can sometimes last longer. During these attacks, the person may experience physical and mental symptoms.
Symptoms of panic attacks may include:
rapid heartbeat or palpitations
Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or feeling of suffocation
Sweating, shivering or chills
Chest pain or discomfort
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or feeling faint
Headache or tingling of the head
Nausea, stomach pain, or digestive problems
Loss of sense of reality or feeling alienated
Fear of losing control or thinking you’ll go crazy
Fear of death or thoughts about death.
What Causes Panic Attacks?
Although the causes of panic attacks are not fully understood, it is thought that several factors may lead to panic attacks. These factors may include genetic predisposition, imbalances in brain chemistry, stress, traumatic events, and certain medical conditions. Here are some of the factors that can cause panic attacks:
Genetic Predisposition: Individuals with a family history of panic disorder or anxiety disorder may be more prone to panic attacks. The role of genetic factors may be effective in the emergence of panic attacks.
Imbalances in Brain Chemistry: An imbalance of chemicals called neurotransmitters in the brain may play a role in the emergence of panic attacks. In particular, changes in the levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) can trigger panic attacks.
Stress: High levels of stress can be a trigger for panic attacks. Stressful life events, work stress, relationship problems or financial difficulties can cause panic attacks.
Traumatic Events: Traumatic experiences, especially posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can occur after a traumatic event, can lead to panic attacks. For example, traumatic events such as physical assault, a serious accident, or natural disaster can trigger panic attacks.
Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions or diseases can trigger panic attacks or cause panic-like symptoms. For example, thyroid problems, heart disease, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and breathing problems can lead to panic attack-like symptoms.
The causes of panic attacks can be complex and multifaceted. Often a combination of multiple factors can trigger panic attacks. Each individual’s experience may be different and the reasons may vary from person to person. It is important to consult a specialist during the treatment process to determine the specific causes of panic attacks and the treatment options that are suitable for you.
What are Panic Attack Treatment Methods?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a therapy method that is effective in the treatment of panic attacks. This therapy aims to change the person’s thought patterns and behaviors. CBT helps identify, question, and change false beliefs associated with fear and anxiety. It also teaches how to deal with the physical symptoms that occur during a panic attack and relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety.
Medication: Medications such as antidepressants and anxiolytics can be used in the treatment of panic attacks. These drugs can help reduce panic attack symptoms by correcting chemical imbalances in the brain. Medication should be evaluated and prescribed by a psychiatrist.
Breathing Techniques: Breathing techniques such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and diaphragm breathing can be used to provide control and relief during a panic attack. These techniques regulate breathing patterns and help balance physiological responses in the body.
Stress Management: It is important to manage stress, which is the trigger of panic attacks. Stress management techniques may include activities such as yoga, meditation, muscle relaxation exercises, exercise, and hobbies. Reducing stress can help prevent panic attacks.
Support Groups and Psychosocial Support: It may be helpful to attend support groups or receive psychosocial support to cope with panic attacks. Support groups allow people with panic attacks to share their experiences, be supported, and get information. Psychosocial support can be provided through one-on-one meetings with a therapist or counselor.
Lifestyle Changes: Healthy lifestyle changes can be helpful in managing panic attacks. Exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and avoiding triggers such as alcohol or caffeine can help reduce panic attack symptoms.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Beyhan Perim Secmen