Signs and symptoms: Flight/fight responses, sweatiness, numbness and tingling, hot and cold flashes, faintness, chest pain and a choking sensation.
On average women are twice as likely to experience panic attacks as men. First experiences of panic attacks are normally in young adulthood. (20’s)
Panic attacks run in families. (Those who have panic are 8 times as likely to have a family member with panic than the general public.)
Causes of panic are not yet proven. Clear links have been found with exposure to stress.
10-20% of those suffering from panic (maybe more) also have depression.
There are three basic kinds of panic attacks described by the APA.
- Unexpected panic attacks: Occur out of the blue and are not associated with anything causing immediate stress.
- Situationally disposed panic attacks: Likelier to occur in response to certain stressful events, but mainly manifest themselves hours or days afterward.
- Situationally bound panic attacks: Occur almost immediately after a stressful event.
3,000,000 American’s suffer from repeated panic attacks according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Many people think they are having heart attacks or going crazy and losing control. They end up in the emergency room of the hospital and most never really understand what is happening inside of them.
Many people become so fearful of future panic attacks that they will not leave their home. (Agoraphobia)
According to the American Psychiatric Association panic is very treatable. The new SSRI medications are particularly useful in treating panic/panic disorder. When medication is combined with education and therapy over 90% of those who suffer from panic can control their attacks.
48 individuals in one recent study of people who suffer from panic also experienced the following:
33 Chest Pain
33 Muscle Tension
32 Persisting nervousness
28 Sweating and flushing
28 Trembling and shaking
Treatment options: Frontline: SSRI medications help most people who suffer from panic. Medication needs to be taken 6-12 months then typically discontinued. Panic attacks may or may not recur after cessation of medication.
Therapy will help if the therapist educates the client as to what panic is and how it works. There is a reasonable chance that the panic will ultimately remit.