Panic Disorders

Panic Disorders
Panic Disorders
Heart pounding, chest closing, shortness of breath, body sweating – these are some of the telltale signs of a panic attack. Individuals with panic disorder experience unexpected and repeated panic attacks. Due to the unexpected and repetitive nature of these attacks, these individuals often live in fear of their next attack and that something bad may happen (ie. losing control or dying).

Heart pounding, chest closing, shortness of breath, body sweating – these are some of the telltale signs of a panic attack. Individuals with panic disorder experience unexpected and repeated panic attacks. Due to the unexpected and repetitive nature of these attacks, these individuals often live in fear of their next attack and that something bad may happen (ie. losing control or dying).

It’s important to note that just because someone has experienced a panic attack before, does not mean they suffer from a panic disorder.) Many people may have experienced a panic attack at some point in their life, but it is the repetitive and unexpected nature of these attacks that may classify someone as having a panic disorder.

Physical Symptoms:

A panic attack results in a sudden rush of intense fear or discomfort, which includes at least 4 of the following symptoms:

  • racing or pounding heart
  • sweating
  • shaking or trembling
  • shortness of breath or feelings of being smothered
  • feeling of choking
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • chills or hot flashes
  • nausea or upset stomach
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • a sense of things being unreal or feeling detached from oneself
  • numbness or tingling sensations
  • fear of losing control or "going crazy"
  • fear of dying

Panic attacks tend to present quickly and can last 15-20 minutes before the symptoms start to subside. For some however, it can take quite some time for all of the symptoms to subside.

Characteristics:

Individuals with panic disorder will often engage in preventative behaviours to try and feel safer. Common examples include:

  • Always carrying things like medication, water or a cell phone everywhere they go
  • Prefer to have someone (ie. a family member or friend) accompany them anywhere they go
  • Avoid physical activities that they believe might trigger panic-like feelings
  • Avoid certain foods (ie. spicy foods) or drinks (ie. caffeine or alcohol) because they believe they might trigger panic-like symptoms
  • Sit near exits or bathrooms

Remember, when there is a threat in real life, we have something physical to react to. We have the opportunity to run away or fight. But when this threat is in our mind…where can we go? Plus, when you can’t quite pinpoint where these fears are arising from, it can be even more difficult to know what to do or how to “fight”.  If someone in your life struggles from panic attacks, one of the easiest ways to show them support is to make them feel safe whenever they are with you. 


* Please note that NO information provided by Cam’s Kids Foundation is intended or implied to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content and information is for general information purposes only. Please speak to your health care practitioner regarding any questions you may have, or to confirm a diagnosis.


For more information:

https://www.anxietycanada.com/adults/panic-disorder

https://childmind.org/article/panic-attacks-best-treatments/ 

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