Why Relieving a Severe Panic Attack can be Difficult
On a very personal level, a severe panic attack can be one of the most overwhelming occurrences one may experience. One reason this is so, is because many panic attacks occur with no warning and seemingly with no reason. However, many panic attacks have definite causes and those causes can be identified.
Identifying the cause and treating a severe panic attack are two very different issues however. One can rationally and objectively say that “this” is the cause of my panic attack but since panic attacks are so emotionally based identification does not mean the attack vanishes.
A Severe Panic Attack is not a Heart Attack
A person may experience many different feelings and reactions during a severe panic attack. These overwhelming attacks can literally seem to take your breath away, leave your heart pounding in your chest while you feel overpowering helplessness, anxiety and fear. You may feel that you are having a heart attack, that you are going to faint or literally collapse from the devastating feelings that overcome you during the attack.
Symptoms of a Panic Attack.
The symptoms of a severe panic attack are many and varied. You may or may not experience all or some of the following feelings and emotions:
- Breathtaking fear and loosing your breath in a panic attack.
- An overwhelming sense of impending doom
- Hyperventilation and severe shortness of breath
- Experiencing dizziness or a feeling of fainting
- Numbness that comes over your body
- Sweating profusely during the severe panic attack
- Extreme restlessness making it impossible to sleep at night.
- Racing heartbeat that seems impossible to slow down
- Trembling that can occur in your hands and the rest of the body seems to shake
- Loss of control and feeling that you are not able to walk or drive safely
- Intense fear of dying that prevents you from living a normal life
- Nausea that makes you feel as if you are going to throw up
- Stomach cramping and the feeling that your stomach is going through upheavals
- The inability to be still and be calm
- A feeling of choking and not being able to swallow
- Fear of losing your mind if you haven't already lost it
- Chest pain feeling as if you are having a heart attack
- Headache that medications don't seem to cure
- Emotional detachment that prevents you from engaging with friends
The Fear of Continuing Attacks
One of the issues of a severe panic attack that seems to exacerbate the problem is the fact that one of the symptoms can very easily be the fear of having another panic attack. So not only are you faced with dealing with the immediate problem but you are experiencing the sense that you may soon have another severe panic attack. One feeds upon the other leaving one with a sense of helplessness against what may appear to be insurmountable odds.
A Severe Panic Attack is Emotional not Logical
Many times panic attacks just do not make sense. Everything in your life may be in order and you are a happy, calm person and the next moment, without reason it seems, you are faced with this problem of having a severe panic attack with the accompanying symptoms.
Another issue is the fact that the symptoms themselves may bring on another panic attack or prolong the one you are currently experiencing.
Onset of Panic Attacks.
A severe panic attack usually occurs without warning. It is even possible to have a panic attack during your sleep. While in a state of relaxation you may experience the sudden onset of a severe panic attack. Unfortunately, there is no real rhyme or reason for many of the attacks we may experience. This makes it frustrating and difficult to deal with.
What Causes a Severe Panic Attack?
Because panic attacks are so heavily involved in the emotional nature of a person, it is difficult to know for certain what causes them.
Certainly stress can be a major contributing factor. Genetics may also play a factor. Physical danger can and will obviously cause a panic attack. However, doctors and health professionals cannot tell us what causes these episodes when there is no physical danger.
The consensus among health professionals is that there is no one cause of a severe panic attack and the exact reason why they occur is unknown. The causes suggested by medical and psychological personnel are that they may be caused by stress or emotional triggers such as major life changes or experiences. Other causes are unknown.
Related Issues of Panic Attacks.
One who is experiencing severe panic attacks should be aware that they can cause further problems. One possible issue is what is called “anticipatory anxiety”. This occurs in between panic attacks. Instead of feeling relaxed and calm you feel the fear and stress of possibly having another attack. This state can disable a person to the extreme.
Continuing panic attacks can also motivate you to avoid certain environments or situations. You may feel that you may experience a panic attack where you may not be able to handle the ramifications of the attack or you may not be able to get help. This can lead to a professional diagnosis of panic disorder and/or agoraphobia. Traditionally, agoraphobia was thought to be caused by the fear of public places but it now appears that the condition is caused by complications of panic attacks.
This may cause you to avoid many situations that you would otherwise enjoy or participate in. Major life changes can occur because of the consequences of continuing severe panic attacks. It is possible to arrive at a situation where you are comfortable only when you are at home. And even then, the panic attacks can continue when you feel safe at home.
How Can I Stop a Severe Panic Attack?
Many health professionals recommend cognitive behavioral therapy. This treatment concentrates on how you think and how you behave that may sustain or cause panic attacks. It is designed to help you see fears in a realistic manner. For instance, what is the worst thing that could happen during a panic attack? Usually, the worst thing will not happen during a panic attack because the attack is not rational and a rational outcome is usually not the result.
Exposure therapy is also used in the treatment of severe panic attacks. Your therapist may ask you to actually act out the symptoms of a panic attack. This is done so that you will become less afraid of these sensations and allow you more control over panic.
Medications for Panic Attacks
Regarding treatment with medications, the two most prescribed drugs are anti-depressants and benzodiazepines. These are helpful but not a cure and the benzodiazepines can be extremely addictive so must be taken with care.
When dealing with a severe panic attack and reoccurrences it is vitally important to educate yourself as much as possible. Learn as much as as you can about panic, symptoms and causes. Try to avoid smoking and caffeine. Deep breathing exercises can help you maintain control during a severe panic attack so learn how to control how you breathe.
Relaxation skills, when performed regularly, can also help you control these attacks. Meditation, muscle relaxation and yoga are some of the most effective means of dealing with a severe panic attack.
Along with therapy, tailored to your unique fears, the above methods can help you control and reduce the consequences of a severe panic attack. Therefore, a comprehensive approach to treatment is in order for those experiencing continued panic attacks. Therapy is considered to be the most effective means to deal with anxiety and panic disorders so visit your doctor at the first sign of reoccurring panic attacks.