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Most people have one to two panic attacks in their lifetime, for example – if a uni assignment or work task is due and there is limited time to complete it! A panic attack may be experienced as intense anxiety - your heart races, you feel hot and sweaty, shaky in the hands, tense in your muscles, tight in the chest, faint or dizzy and have difficulty breathing. However, some people suffer from recurrent panic attacks that seem to develop suddenly and unexpectedly. Individuals usually cannot predict when an attack will occur, and spend a lot of time worrying about when the next attack will happen. This may be panic disorder.
What are the signs and symptoms of Panic Disorder?
- Experiencing a panic attack can include the physical experience of a pounding heart, sweatiness, a feeling of weakness, faintness or dizziness. The hands may tingle or feel numb, the person may feel flushed or chilled. There can be chest pain or smothering sensations, a sense of unreality and impending doom or a feeling of losing of control and going crazy.
- Avoiding situations that may trigger a panic attack. Commonly, individuals with panic disorder avoid social situations or going out in public, perceiving these circumstances as dangerous to panic. This means the person may also suffer from Agoraphobia.
- Persistent worry about having another panic attack or the consequences of panic – for example, you may fear you’re going “crazy” or loosing control, or fear having a heart attack.
How does Panic Disorder affect me?
- Difficulty socialising or going out in public. In severe situations, the individual may struggle to leave the house. In more moderate situations, individuals may avoid certain places or situations, often because they have experienced panic before in these particular circumstances. For example, individuals may avoid flying on a plane, getting into a lift, going to the supermarket, sitting in the movie cinema’s, or staying in a room with the door closed.
- It’s exhausting! It can feel like you are constantly worrying about when you are next going to have a panic attack. You may spend a lot of time planning escape routes – sitting near the exit or creating excuses if you need to leave in a hurry.
- The worry and panic can affect your sleep and appetite.
How can I treat my panic attacks?
There are several well-researched treatments that are effective in treating panic attacks (and agoraphobia), including: Cognitive-behavioural Therapy (CBT), Self-Help, Psychoeducation and medication.
How can Peaceful Mind Psychology help?
We are experienced and trained in treating psychological difficulties like panic attacks (and agoraphobia). If you would like some professional assistance contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology.