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What Is a Panic Attack?

Lido Wellness Center Blog

What Is a Panic Attack?

October 18, 2022

Panic attacks are sudden but intense episodes when you become overwhelmed with an intense wave of fear or anxiety—despite no obvious danger being around you. Naturally, panic attacks are tremendously frightening, with most people comparing them to heart attacks or near-death experiences.

Are Panic Attacks Dangerous?

Panic attacks can happen to anyone. But people suffering from a panic disorder, agoraphobia, or receiving treatment for PTSD are likely to experience panic attacks. Something to remember is that though it feels very real, panic attacks occur when there is no real danger. A person may believe they are having a heart attack. They may even begin choking or feel like they are dying.

What Does a Panic Attack Feel Like?

One of the core things to remember about panic attacks is that they begin suddenly, without any warning. This unanticipated feature of this condition makes them extremely frightening.

Once your attack starts, you may feel a powerful and disturbing pain in your chest that makes you believe you are about to die. However, you may also feel other symptoms, such as:

  1. Trembling limbs.
  2. Excessive sweating.
  3. Chills through your skin.
  4. Headaches
  5. Dizziness
  6. Palpitations

These symptoms generally last anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes and fade away quickly after.

What Causes Panic Attacks?

Unfortunately, doctors are still not confident about what causes panic attacks, but they believe that these factors can affect their frequency:

  1. Your genes.
  2. Temperament and sensitivity.
  3. Extreme stress.

What Is Panic Disorder?

Most people will likely have a panic attack once or twice throughout their lifetime due to extreme stress. However, if you frequently have these attacks multiple times a year, then you may have a condition known as a panic disorder. People with panic disorders tend to struggle with anxiety and fear and consistently face feelings of dread, terror, and other panic attack symptoms.

What Should I Do If I’m Having a Panic Attack?

It is important to make sure you are not in danger. If it is truly a panic attack, there are some de-escalation actions to take.

  • Slow your breathing and become present with your breath
  • Put your focus on a single object in room or in the distance (notice leaves moving in the wind
  • Relax your body focusing on one part at a time
  • Recognize you are having a panic episode. Experience the feelings rather than fight them
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Create and repeat a calming mantra, such as, “This will pass.”

Long Term Panic Attack Treatment

We understand how challenging it can be to face panic attacks consistently in your life. A panic disorder can affect your social life and lead to other issues, such as depression. Fortunately, it does not have to be this way.

There are panic disorder treatment options.

The most successful involve various mental health counseling and therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectic behavior therapy, and exposure therapy. EMDR treatment is a non-invasive electromagnetic therapy that can also help with chronic panic disorders. These forms of treatment allow you to dive into the root cause of your panic attacks and transform how you react to anxiety.

Intensive Outpatient for Panic Disorders

Mental health counseling can help with panic disorders and other anxiety related disorders, but a more intensive mental health outpatient option may help individuals delve deeper into the source of recurring panic attacks.

Lido Wellness in Newport Beach offers an intensive outpatient program based on scientific backed therapeutic models. If you want to know more about this unique mental health treatment option, call us today. Our team is ready to answer any questions.

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