It is not uncommon for people to have a panic attack or two at some point(s) in their lives. In cases in which someone is under extreme stress that has led to a panic episode, when the stress is relieved they may not have recurrent attacks. However, if you have experienced recurring panic attacks and have been living with the worry of having another episode, you might be struggling with panic disorder. Fortunately, panic attack disorder treatment has been very effective for many people.
Topics covered on this page:
- What is a Panic Attack?
- Symptoms of a Panic Attack
- Panic Disorder Causes
- Risk Factors for Panic Disorder
- When Should You See a Doctor
- Complications from Panic Disorder
- Effective Treatment for Panic Disorder in Utah
At Pathways, we are dedicated to helping patients overcome panic disorder with the best treatment options available. Learn how you can get started today!
What is a Panic Attack?
A panic attack is an acute sense of overwhelming fear that generates strong physical reactions although there is no actual danger or obvious cause of the episode. When a panic attack is happening, the victim may feel as if he or she has lost control, or is having a heart attack, or possibly even dying.
Panic attacks are not a direct threat to your health, but they are frightening, and they can be a source of ongoing unhealthy stress, and they can have a significant negative impact on your quality of life.
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
Panic attacks usually start suddenly and can happen at any time, even while the victim is sleeping. These attacks vary in their symptoms, but usually reach their peak within some minutes and then subside. Afterward, the victim may feel exhausted. These are some typical signs and symptoms of a panic attack:
- Feeling of danger or impending doom
- Fear of death or loss of control
- Rapid heart rate
- Shaking or trembling
- Throat tightening
- Hot flashes
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal cramping
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Detached feeling, sense of unreality
- Tingling sensation or numbness
Panic Disorder Causes
Initially, panic attacks may appear to happen without cause, but over time you may recognize situations that can trigger an attack. The cause of panic attacks is unclear, but some factors that may be involved include:
- Extreme stress
- Sensitivity to stress
Risk Factors for Panic Disorder
Panic disorder symptoms may begin to appear in the late teens or early adult years. This disorder affects more women than men. Some factors that might increase a person’s risk of experiencing panic attacks or suffering from the panic disorder include:
- A major accident, assault, or other trauma events
- A divorce, new baby, or other major life change
- Being victimized by sexual or physical abuse as a child
- Death or serious illness of a loved one, or other devastating occurrences
- Excessive caffeine use or smoking
- Family history of panic attacks or panic disorder
When Should You See a Doctor
If you have experienced symptoms of a panic attack, see a doctor as soon as possible. Although panic attacks are not a threat to your physical health, these attacks are difficult to manage without professional help and they can worsen without proper treatment.
Symptoms of a panic attack may resemble symptoms of a heart attack or other serious medical emergency, so you should be examined by your primary care physician if you are not certain of what is causing your panic attacks.
Complications from Panic Disorder
Untreated panic attack disorder can negatively impact virtually all aspects of your life. The constant fear of having another panic attack can be so severe that it can ruin a person’s quality of life. Complications that can arise from panic disorder may include:
- Problems at school or work
- Anxiety or depression, other mental health issues
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Avoiding social situations due to fear of a panic attack there
- Excessive worry about health
- Phobias like fear of leaving the house (agoraphobia)
- Escalated risk of suicide, frequent suicidal thoughts
- Financial problems
Preventing Panic Attacks
There is not yet a proven approach to preventing panic attacks or curing the panic disorder. But, these are the current recommendations for helping control the condition:
- Get prompt treatment for panic attacks to help prevent them from becoming more intense or more frequent.
- Follow your prescribed treatment plan to help avoid worsening symptoms or relapse.
- Get regular exercise and stay physically active, to help increase your sense of well-being and help prevent anxiety.
Effective Treatment for Panic Disorder in Utah
We are a mental health counseling and addiction recovery treatment center in Utah. We help people overcome depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and all types of addiction. Pathways provide outpatient and inpatient panic disorder treatment. We create an individualized program for your specific personal needs and your vision for the outcome of your treatment. All members of your professional team are available for you 24/7. You’ll never reach a recording.