How to define a panic attack?

A panic attack can be defined as an unexpected outbreak of a fear connected to the thoughts about death, usually accompanied by a number of physical symptoms. Panic attacks can be frightening because usually they appear for apparently no reason, or in situations where there seems to be no cause for fear. The rapidity and strength with which the panic grows, and the fact that it involves the whole body, can only exacerbate the feelings of fear and helplessness. So if you wonder how to define a panic attack, most common symptoms are:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath;
  • Feeling of tightness or pain in the chest;
  • Shaking hands and sweating;
  • Tingling sensations or numbness in the hands or feet;
  • Strong or rapid heartbeat;
  • Lethargy, weakness and dizziness;
  • Feelings of «detachment» from own body or the environment;
  • Nausea, discomfort in the stomach;
  • Fever or chills.

Apart from the purely physical symptoms of panic attack, the patient is usually overwhelmed with painfully disturbing thoughts, such as:

” I think I gonna die “; “I’m losing control of myself”; ” I’m going to switch off now”; “I think I have a heart attack”;

Of course, it is unlikely that all of this will actually happen, and when the episode has passed, these thoughts often seem so absurd to a person, but at the moment of panic the fear obsesses like compulsive delusions. During a panic attack fears can be so real that they can sink deep into unconscious mind and increase the anxiety in between the attacks.

What you can feel after a panic attack?

After the panic has passed, the person often feels fully exhausted, depressed and confused. Sometimes people may start to think that they have some physical illness, and seek help of health professionals. Thers may try to hide it with shame or embarrassment after they lost control of themselves. Such people prefer to suffer in silence rather than tell someone, including a doctor.

Shortness of breath and symptoms of panic attack

Accelerated, even sometimes convulsive breathing can indicate the panic arising in those who exposed to it. Many patients notice that in the middle of the attack their respiration quickens and becomes shallow. With rapid breathing people often sigh, breath with difficulty and even convulsively fetch for the air. The most common is sighing and yawning. If you notice that the whole day you doing nothing but sigh and yawn, it means that you breathe frequently and, consequently, there may be an increased likelihood of panic attack. During normal breathing oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration in blood are balanced. Breathing more quickly you exhale carbon dioxide above normal, making it increasingly difficult to saturate your body with oxygen by red blood cells. In other words, the more quickly you breathe, the less oxygen comes to the brain. This causes a brain hypoxia, which is followed by dizziness and weakness. In stressful situations, breath may quicken even more and can provoke an attack, when you begin to breathe harder.

Anyone who has the problem with panic attacks tends to think that he will never recover. However, this is not true at all. Most of the patients reported significant and sustained improvement after the cognitive-behavioral therapy. In other words, as soon as the patient learns to control and prevent panic attacks, the symptoms can disappear for a long time, even for many years. However, to truly get rid of panic attacks for good, rather than learn to cope and control symptoms, a serious work with psyche is needed. That will remove the causes of attacks.