Panic Attack and Panic Disorder:
Panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you are losing control, having a heart attack or even dying. As well as these feelings, you may also have physical symptoms such as:
a sensation that your heart is beating irregularly (palpitations)
Many people have just one or two panic attacks in their lifetimes and the problem goes away.
A Panic Attack or Anxiety can cause you to take rapid or deep breaths, known as hyperventilating. Concentrating on slow breathing or breathing through a paper bag should bring your breathing back to normal.
There are several conditions that can cause severe anxiety including:
phobias – an extreme or irrational fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal
generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) – a long-term condition that causes excessive anxiety and worry relating to a variety of situations
post-traumatic stress disorder – a condition with psychological and physical symptoms caused by distressing or frightening events
If you have recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and spend long periods in constant fear of another attack, you may have a condition called Panic Disorder. Panic attacks were once dismissed as nerves or stress but they are now recognised as a real medical condition. Although panic attacks can significantly affect your quality of life, treatment can be very effective.
See your doctor if you have symptoms of anxiety or panic disorder.