Understand What is a Panic Attack
In order to understand what is a panic attack you need to know that panic attacks are sudden bursts of overwhelming fear and anxiety that happen for no apparent cause and without any warning. It can be a once off episode or it can be a recurring event.
Continuous attacks occur to a person who is put into a situation that acts a panic ‘trigger’. It may not bring any apparent danger but it can cause a person severe mental, emotional and physical distress. In severe cases it may become a permanent disorder.
Panic attacks can happen to anyone and statistics show that about 10% of the general population suffers from panic attacks but many are never treated or go unnoticed. Current trends lean towards more young people experiencing these attacks and the female population is twice as susceptible to it as males. Sometimes what causes panic attacks are as simple as you being in the same gene pool; it is hereditary so chances of children of people with panic attacks getting it are very high.
There are some common symptoms that can help you identify what is a panic attack. Some of these symptoms are rapid heartbeat, chest aches, difficulty in breathing, stomach discomfort, shivering, perspiring, feeling faint, feverish, numbness, feeling like you’re dying and becoming disoriented.
These symptoms are quite similar to that of a person undergoing a heart attack; panic attacks are generally harmless while heart attacks can be fatal. Therefore it is critical to get medical assistance immediately if you see someone portraying symptoms of what are panic attacks.
It is sometimes difficult to determine what causes a panic attack as it can happen at anytime for no apparent cause. Some conditions that may result in a panic attack include the traumatic event of a passing of a family member, severe family fights, disastrous relationships, news of your parents divorcing, accidents or public embarrassments.
Future attacks can take place when the panic ‘trigger’ is the same and you are caught unaware in the same situation.
Stress is a great contributor to getting panic attacks. Stressful work and life environment can become triggers to causing a panic attack.
Panic attacks usually last for about 30 minutes and hit the extreme into the tenth minute. During this period you can go through some of the symptoms describing what is a panic attack. It is essential to regulate the breathing as this is the main cause of the increased heart rate. Try breathing deeply and for 3 counts and see your breathing returning back to normal.
Continue doing this breathing exercise till you feel your old self returning. If you can, slowly get up and walk about. Breathing into a paper bag is also helpful as inhaling back the carbon dioxide that you release will help normalize the acid level in your blood stream that would have gone haywire due to your frantic breathing.
Focusing on the breathing will distract you from the situation that caused the panic attack in the first place. After that try to think of positive thoughts and do something like playing puzzles or word games to diversify your thinking.