For anyone who has experienced one, a panic attack is impossible to forget. Panic is unpleasant and can be associated with a range of physical sensations and a fear of dying, going insane or losing control.
Panic attacks are a form of anxiety. Symptoms include dizziness, sweating, pounding heart, faintness, rapid pulse and difficulty breathing. Many people believe they have heart problems or are going to die, but panic is the cause. After the panic subsides, people feel weak, nauseous and exhausted.
Often there is no identifiable cause for the onset of panic attacks, although they can start during stressful periods or after illness. They may occur once, a few times, or frequently. Because panic attacks are so frightening, people live in fear of another attack. In an attempt to feel in control, people develop theories about causes of the panic, and might start to avoid situations that might trigger the panic, thereby cutting off normal daily activities.
Although professional help is needed to overcome an established pattern of panic attacks (psychologist, social worker or psychiatrist who is experienced in this field), in less severe cases, simple strategies can make a difference:
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