Close to 15% of the 140 million visits to emergency rooms in 2016 were all cases of panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden surges of overwhelming fear and anxiety which get the better of the patients and make them feel like they are on the brink of death. In that moment, one feels overwhelmed by a cloud of anxiety and stress and the heart races like it is just about to stop. To some people, the conditions are so severe that they experience difficulties with breathing. Some people are dumbfounded in that moment and can’t even move an inch. Sweating and shivering kicks in and if proper medication is not administered, the condition gets worse. Today, we want to look at how these panic attacks/disorders are diagnosed, their cause, their treatment in emergency rooms and ways in which one can remain calm and relaxed in case of a panic attack.
Causes of panic attacks
Panic attacks are brought about by situations and incidents where one feels endangered or unable to escape. To some people however, panic attacks can result from just thought and too much thinking about certain problems they are facing in life. The idea of something bad happening to you in the near future triggers responses from your body. These responses are different in people and although some are able to remain calm and relaxed, others lose it and are overwhelmed by anxiety and fear. Some people experience recurrent panic attacks every time they are faced with specific situations or are supposed to carry out a certain activity like visit a dentist for example. Prolonged panic lead to the development of panic disorders which are more dangerous.
Signs and symptoms of panic attacks
As we earlier on mentioned, the signs and symptoms of panic attacks vary from one person to another. The intensity of the signs and symptoms is determined by the sort of response that the victim’s body gives when faced by certain situations. The most common symptoms of panic attacks include increased heart beats where the heart palpitates, chest pains, shivering, a weird choking feeling, a feeling of being detached from the surroundings, profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, feeling light-headed and numbness. Some people will even pass stool or urinate on themselves during panic attacks because they are extremely shocked and lose it. Other people will have relatively mild symptoms. Such will only experience racing hearts and perhaps profuse sweating. The latter are able to cope with panic attacks more than those who have relatively extreme symptoms. If someone experiences panic attacks repeatedly then there is the possibility of panic disorder. If you are also worried about having another panic attack, then you need to report panic disorder to the nearest emergency room.
Diagnosis and treatment of panic attacks
There are three main treatment options available in emergency rooms for panic attacks. These are cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure therapy and medication treatment. In cognitive behavioural therapy, the thinking patterns and behaviours that trigger the panic attacks are addressed. The consequences of the situations are reviewed and the patient is made to believe that nothing disastrous will happen in the end and its just about fear. The moment the patient feels comfortable in these situations, they will be able to remain calm and relaxed if they are faced with similar situations in the future.
Here, the patient is exposed to the physical sensations of panic but in a controlled environment enabling your body to cope with the conditions and learn to respond in a better way. You will be asked to take part in exercises which trigger similar sensations as those you experienced during a panic attack. With each passing exercise, you become used to the sensations and get a sense of control over the overwhelming fear and anxiety. In case of a panic attack therefore, you will be able to remain calm and see the problem through without much worry.
In medication treatment, certain drugs are used to resolve the problem. This method is resolved to when the symptoms are severe and the patient is in danger. Some of the most common drugs used to treat panic attacks and disorders include antidepressants and benzodiazepines. These are anti-anxiety drugs whose effects kicks in within minutes and help relieve the pain and other attack symptoms. The only shortcoming of such drugs is the fact that they can be addictive and can have some extreme withdrawal symptoms. For better results, these drugs are limitedly used in conjunction with the other two available treatment options to help panic attack victims.
Sometimes, you don’t need to see a physician when you have a panic attack. Learn how to control your emotions and practice self-relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation and you will be able to cope with attacks better.