A panic attack is a sudden period of extreme fear and anxiety that results to intense physical reaction where there is no real danger or is unprovoked. These moments are usually temporary and last only from several minutes to hours, but the peak frequently occurs within ten minutes of onset. These attacks may be very frightening as one who suffers from this thinks that they are losing control or are suffering from a heart attack or even dying. A panic attack may be an isolated case or may also be an underlying symptom of a mental disorder. Multiple and recurring panic attacks and individuals who are constantly in feat of another attack suffer from what is called a panic disorder.
A panic attack is not uncommon. It is said that more than half of the people in the world will experience at least one panic attack in their lifetime and can disappear as soon as the stressful situation they are in stops. Women are more at risk from suffering panic attacks than men.
Causes of Panic Attack
The exact mechanism of how panic attacks are triggered in the body despite the absence of danger is still unknown. However, there are certain factors that are known to trigger these attacks in an individual. These include:
- Short term causes
- Undergoing major stress in school or in work
- Severe emotional distress
- Life transitions
- Significant personal loss
- Psychological disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Biological causes
- Genetic – tendency to run in the family
- Phobia – great fear of one thing or another
- Avoiding certain things or situations and getting exposed to these things avoided
- Withdrawal from alcohol and drugs
Signs and Symptoms of Panic Attack
The danger of panic attack is that it may occur at any time and even without any warning. The following are the common symptoms of a panic attack:
- Sense of imminent danger
- Fear of losing control or dying
- A feeling that one is suffering from a heart attack
- Heart palpitations
- Tightness in the throat and stomach
- Difficulty swallowing
- Short breaths
- Feeling faint
- Hot flashes
First Aid Management for Panic Attack
The main goal for treating a panic attack is to relieve of the symptoms. The following steps can help manage an individual who is suffering from a panic attack.
- First and foremost, do not panic. Stay calm at all times. This is to avoid causing further panic to the patient.
- Begin by talking to the patient and ask them what one can do to help.
- Comfort the person and do not leave them alone at all times.
- Tell the patient to take relaxed and equal breaths.
- Rescuer should never try to control the signs and symptoms of the patient as it may just worsen the situation.
- Seek medical attention if the person is not comforted after a certain period of time.
Enroll in First Aid Courses and CPR Classes to learn more about how to handle individuals suffering from a panic attack or other disorders.
A panic attack is an abrupt period of extreme fear coupled with intense physical reactions when there is no apparent danger. These moments are usually fleeting.