A panic attack is an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and fear. Your heart beats so hard it feels like it is coming out of your chest. You become detached from your surroundings and feel as though you have lost complete control. Breathing becomes erratic and it is common to feel sick or faint. In some instances you feel you are about to die. A panic attack may be a one off occurrence, however for some, panic attacks happen on a regular basis. Repeat episodes are often triggered by specific situations, for example, speaking in public or being in a confined space. If this situation has previously triggered a panic attack it is likely to do so again. Research suggests that feelings of being trapped or impending harm can induce an attack.
Unfortunately panic attacks can develop abruptly and quite randomly. Symptoms may include
Hyperventilation (shortness of breath)
Loss of control
While some people experience a one off panic attack those who suffer from repeated episodes become susceptible to a Panic Disorder. This disorder forms after repeated attacks that affect the way you think and behave. It creates constant anxiety due to the feelings of an impending attack. Those suffering with a panic disorder experience
Frequent panic attacks
Avoidance of places/situations that you believe will cause a panic attack.
A panic disorder can leave a long lasting impression due to the emotional and physical toll it takes on you. Feelings of inadequacy, low self esteem and lack of confidence can have debilitating impact on you and your families life. If left unchecked a panic disorder can lead to other symptoms which include
Anticipatory anxiety – Fear of the fear of an attack. Constant tension and anxiety between attacks.
Phobic avoidance – Total avoidance of situations/places that you believe could cause an attack. This avoidance potentially leads to something called Agoraphobia. This phobia is caused from fear/embarrassment that an attack is oncoming. It is especially acute when it appears escape from a situation is particularly difficult.