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A panic attack occurs when a feeling of anxiety reaches the size of a mental cataclysm. Fortunately, simple and very effective ways to deal with panic attacks have been discovered - see what to do in such cases and how to avoid them.

A panic attack is unpredictable . It usually first appears in adolescents,lasts about an hour , although the extreme intensity of anxiety occurs 5-10 minutes after the first symptoms. Then the person slowly calms down. Research shows thatabout 3 percent. people experienced panic terror .

What is a panic attack?

Typicalpanic attackis a sudden experience of extremely severe anxiety that is not preceded by any particular event and appears " for no reason " . Apart from depression, panic attacks are the most common emotional disorders.

If panic attacks are left untreated, they create many secondary complications. The first isthe phenomenon of "fear of anxiety"- a person becomes afraid that he may experience a panic attack again at any moment. Therefore, he begins to avoid certain situations. This is a secondary complication - agoraphobia appears - fear of places where you cannot find shelter, escape or help. A victim of panic attacks becomes afraid of bridges, airplanes, open spaces, crowds, etc.

Panic attack - causes

Researchers found that most patientscan be triggered by a panic attack with the plain words . When asked to read pairs of related words, such as "breathlessness - choking", "heart palpitations - dying", three-quarters later had a seizure.

This means that the cause of this ailment may be:

  • catastrophic thinking
  • negative associations
  • so-calledautomatic thoughtsabout death

Simply put, patients with panic attacks have learned to interpret their otherwise normal body sensations as harbingers of death, terrible trauma, or insanity.

Panic attack - treatment

The method of modifying associationspresents a dialogue with the patient who was afraid of fainting and experienced panic attacks whenever he felt weak. He imagined that if he fainted, for example, on a bridge or in a car, he wouldthen he would die.

Therapist:So are you afraid of passing out?

Patient:Yes, I'm getting scared and feeling the attack coming. My heart is pounding, I am sweating and feeling stuffy. I feel dizzy and know that I am passing out. I have to hold on to something in time, then I won't fall.

Therapist:Have you ever passed out?

Patient:Fortunately, I always have time to grab something or sit down. Besides, I avoid dangerous situations in which something bad could happen to me.

Therapist:When you feel anxious, your blood pressure tends to increase. Do you agree that your blood pressure rises during a seizure?

Patient:My heart is pounding, my pulse is rushing … Yes, it's a sign that my blood pressure is rising.

Therapist:Exactly! And because your blood pressure goes up, you can't pass out. A person faints only when his blood pressure drops.

Patient:Then why do I feel faint and dizzy?

Therapist:When you experience severe anxiety, your body "expects" danger, so it prepares to fight or flee. The blood is pumped into the muscles and some of it drains out of the brain, and you feel "dizzy". This confuses you and you think you are about to collapse. In fact, blood pressure rises and then fainting is unlikely.

Patient:I didn't know about this. The next time I feel short of breath, I will check my pulse - if it does not change or increases, it will calm me down, I will know that I will not pass out.

TakaA simple change in the way you understandof your own body sensations means that panic bouts are completely eliminated, and without medication. Sometimes 2 or 3 treatment sessions are enough for the patient to learn to understand that palpitations and shortness of breath can be normal sensations.

Panic leads to imbalances in the functioning of the brain. Psychologists believe that when a patient becomes afraid, his anxiety causes changes in the nervous system - chemical imbalances and disruptions in the interaction of specific parts of the brain are the result (not the cause) of growing anxiety.

It is growingfear that causes changes in the body , not the other way around. Therefore, psychological therapy is more effective than pharmacotherapy. After completing such therapy, panic attacks never appear in 90% of patients. patients.

Drug treatment enhanced with psychotherapy

Panic attacks are associated with a chemical imbalance in those areas of the brain associated with experiencing anxiety (e.g. in thebluish).

They have also been found to appear in people whosebrain "fight-and-flight" system is dysregulated . You can restore the normal function of the bluish site and regulate the functioning of other parts of the brain with the use ofappropriate medications . Their effectiveness is high - they completely eliminate panic attacks in 80% of patients. patients.

Drug therapy has a drawback - many (but not all) patients experience recurrences of panic attacks after drug discontinuation. To prevent them from happening, the patient should learn to change his / her way of thinking, e.g. undergopsychotherapy .

  • Anxiety disorders make life difficult
  • How is anxiety neurosis manifested?
  • Causes and treatment of overload of thoughts

Panic attacks - real life stories

Konrad's story

-I had my first panic attackat the age of 23 - says Konrad. - I earned some extra money in a restaurant as a waiter. One evening I felt that I was getting stuffy. I couldn't catch my breath, my heart pounded as if it wanted to jump out of my tray.

I hid in the toilet, locked it, and then I felt as if I was about to die - it seemed to me that my heart was swollen in my chest and it was pumping blood like a steam piston, my head was spinning, I had the feeling that I'm suffocating. I thought: "I'm crazy, I'm about to die, this is death, a heart attack." I wanted to scream but I was afraid. It was all like a cataclysm, I do not wish such an experience for my worst enemy. I had to quit my job, I was afraid that it would catch me in front of the guests again, that I would do something terrible.

Kasia's story

Kasia suffered her first panic attack in the apartment where she lives.

- The elevator broke down and I had to go to the eighth floor with my shopping - he recalls. - I was in sixth when I felt I was choking,my throat tightenedand I just couldn't catch my breath. I thought something was wrong with me. My heart started pounding, I tried to catch my breath, but it felt like I was breathing through a straw,as if I was melting . I was sweating like a mouse, I was all wet.Couldn't say the word . I let go of the bags and spun around as if I had lost my mind. It took a good 10 minutes -10 worst minutes of my life . It seemed to me that the earth was about to part and that my end had come.

When it was discovered that panic attacks could be related to catastrophic, anxious interpretations of one's own body experiences, that it was theseerroneous, frightening thoughts that exacerbated the anxiety , the idea of ​​treatment also emergedpanic attacks by psychological drugs.

Perhaps if Kasia understood hershortness of breath as a natural effect of climbing stairswith heavy shopping, when she felt stuffy, she would just rest and no panic attack would occur. But it seemed to her that shortness of breath meant impending death and some "disturbance". That's why the terror ensued.

Agnieszka's story

The state of "fear of fear" is aptly described by Agnieszka:

- If I was scared in the street, I could go crazy and no one would help me. That's why I stopped going out alone, I have to be with my sister or my mother. The crowd is terrifying to me, even in the picture. I'm afraid to stand alone at the bus stop, not to mention getting on a crowded bus, which is impossible to get away from.

"Zdrowie" monthly

When to see a psychologist?

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