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What are Panic Attacks

What are Panic Attacks

What are Panic Attacks

What are Panic Attacks

What are panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden and intense episode of fear or anxiety that peaks within minutes and can last for several hours. Panic attacks can be triggered by a specific situation or can occur unexpectedly. They are usually accompanied by physical symptoms, such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

These can be a symptom of panic disorder, a type of anxiety disorder characterised by recurring panic attacks and persistent fear of future panic attacks. Panic disorder can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks or participate in social activities.

Some common triggers of panic attacks include:

  • Stressful life events
  • Trauma or abuse
  • Phobias or fears
  • Medications or drug use
  • Physical illness or medical conditions
  • Family history of panic disorder or anxiety

Treatment for panic attacks may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a common form of therapy that teaches individuals to identify and challenge negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to panic attacks. Medications such as antidepressants or benzodiazepines may also be prescribed to manage symptoms.

If you or someone you know is experiencing panic attacks, it is important to seek help from a healthcare provider or mental health professional. With the right treatment and support, individuals with panic disorder can learn to manage their symptoms and lead a fulfilling life.

Physical symptoms

Panic attacks are characterised by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear which are accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. These sensations often mimic symptoms of a heart attack or other life-threatening conditions. As a result, the diagnosis of panic disorder is frequently not made until extensive and costly medical procedures fail to provide a correct diagnosis or relief.


Many people with these attacks develop intense anxiety between episodes, worrying when and where the next one will strike. Fortunately, through research supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), effective treatments have been developed to help people with panic disorder. This treatment can include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The exact cause and the disorder is unknown and is the subject of intense debate and investigation.

Possible causes

Possible causes include heredity, other biological factors, stressful life events, and overreacting to normal bodily sensations. Some research suggests panic attacks occur when a “suffocation alarm mechanism” in the brain erroneously fires, falsely reporting that death is imminent.

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