Panic attacks occur frequently and unexpectedly in people with panic disorder. These attacks are characterized by a sudden wave of intense fear, anxiety, or a feeling of losing control even when there is no danger present. Not everyone who experiences a panic attack develops a panic disorder, and while it is not life-threatening, it can be frightening and greatly affect your quality of life, but treatment can be very effective.
Symptoms of panic disorder
It involves a recurrent panic attack, when four or more of these signs appear:
The feeling of approaching danger.
Shortness of breath or feeling of suffocation.
Nausea or stomach pain.
Feeling dizzy or fainting.
Chills or hot flashes.
Numbness or tingling.
Feeling of unreality and detachment from reality.
Fear of losing control or going crazy.
Fear of death.
Many people with panic disorder associate the attack with what they were doing at the time of its occurrence, or with the place they were in, and then they will avoid those places and actions, and this may lead to what is called agoraphobia, which is the fear of leaving the house or being in public places.
How long do panic attacks last?
The seizure usually passes within 5 to 10 minutes, but it can last for hours. An individual can feel like they are having a heart attack or stroke, so they often end up in the emergency room for evaluation.
The number of seizures a patient has depends on the severity of the condition, with some people having seizures once or twice a month, while others have them several times a week.
When should I call a doctor?
As we have indicated, some panic attacks have signs that can be confused with a physical problem such as a heart attack, so if you have chest pain, difficulty breathing or loss of consciousness, seek emergency medical care, so you should also contact a doctor if you have panic attacks in conjunction with:
Chronic anxiety that interferes with everyday life.
Fear of leaving home (agoraphobia).
Symptoms of a panic attack last more than 15 minutes.
Panic disorder treatments
The treatment aims to reduce the number of panic attacks experienced by the patient and alleviate the symptoms, talk therapy and medication are the main treatment for panic disorder, and daily practices can prevent their occurrence, such as: breathing exercises, regular physical exercise, stress management, healthy eating and regular meals, avoiding caffeine, alcohol and smoking.