Panic attacks aren't fundamentally dangerous: They are body's natural way of coping with potential stress

Panic attacks aren’t fundamentally dangerous: They are body’s natural way of coping with potential stress

Panic attacks typically take place when an individual is under any kind of physical or emotional stress. Around 1 in 7 people usually experience a panic attack at least once in their life and more than half of these individuals are likely to experience repeated incidents of attacks.

It is significant to understand that panic attacks are not fundamentally dangerous. In fact, it is the body’s natural way of responding to potential threats or stress. The effects of stress usually pile up slowly within an individual without their awareness till they actually experience a panic attack.

Understanding panic attacks

Very often, panic attacks take place for no particular reason and may take place anytime and anywhere, even when an individual is asleep. They appear abruptly and usually are over within a couple of minutes, instead of hours.

When an individual experiences a panic attack, they experience certain physical symptoms like skipped or faster heartbeat, tightness in the chest, difficulty in breathing, muscular tension, dizziness, or sweating. A panic attack is usually accompanied by an emotional response driven by any kind of perceived threat. In case an individual is not aware of the reason behind the panic attack or perceives the event as threatening, they are likely to be more anxious.

Panic attacks are manifestations of extreme anxiety

Panic attacks are an outcome of intense anxiety followed by symptoms driven by the activation and regulation of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system in the human body. When the heart rate increases during a panic attack, it delivers an increased flow of oxygen to the muscles to prepare them for the fight or flight response. As a result, it raises the rate of breathing causing the individual to feel breathless or experience a feeling of tightness in the chest.

Since majority of the oxygen is diverted to the muscles and the core, the brain receives lesser than the usual quantity making the individual feel dizzy. While these symptoms normally subside by themselves, the residual effects of adrenaline and noradrenaline take some time to fade out. Hence it is possible that a person who experiences a panic attack may continue to feel anxious for some time and may feel tired and drained.

As panic attacks indicate that a person is undergoing stress, an individual experiencing these should treat them as warning signs to figure out the reason behind the physical or emotional stress that they may be going through; and accordingly, devise strategies to overcome the stress.

When should an individual seek professional help?

According to statistics, only around 1.7 percent of people who experience panic attacks may develop a serious panic disorder. When an individual experiences frequent panic attacks, they usually tend to avoid situations which they consider as high-risk. In such cases, the panic attacks usually take the form of a panic disorder which needs expert intervention either from a psychiatrist or a psychologist. One of the most effective treatments for a panic disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) rendered with or without antidepressants.

When one sees an individual experiencing a panic attack, it is wise not to fuel their anxiety. One should calmly convince the individual that what they are experiencing may be unpleasant but not necessarily dangerous and that it will get over with time. People should try to divert the mind of the person undergoing a panic attack and enable them to gain control over themselves by helping them regulate their breathing. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to ask them to inhale deeply for 4 seconds, then hold their breath for 2 seconds, and slowly exhale to the count of 6 seconds. This calming exercise can be repeated as many times as required.

The road ahead

Most mental disorders, including panic disorders, can be overcome by seeking an advanced mental health treatment program. The panic disorder treatment program offered at the Anxiety Treatment Centers of California comprises of an effective combination of expressive and experiential treatments, customized in accordance with the needs of the patients.

If you or a loved one is battling with any kind of mental illness, including a panic disorder, feel free to reach out to us at the Anxiety Treatment Centers of California. You can directly call our 24/7 helpline 855-972-9459 for more information about our research-backed panic disorders treatment programs. You can also chat online with a representative from the admissions team to learn more about our panic disorders treatment centers in California.