The Low Down on Anxiety Panic Attacks

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While anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, anxiety panic attacks are not.  A panic attack is an abnormal reaction that is a disabling anxiety disorder.  Anxiety panic attacks can be frightening and may occur one time or become reoccurring.  Almost anyone can suffer from an anxiety panic attack.

Signs of a Panic Attack

A panic attack may be different for each individual.  Here are some common signs and symptoms that occur with a panic attack:

– Rapid heartbeat
– Gasping for breath
– Paralysing sense of dread or fear
– Nervousness or physical shaking
– Dizziness or light-headedness
– Nausea
– Feeling anxious
– Tingling in hands and feet
– Great fear of impending doom

Overall, a panic attack is defined by the fact that a person feels an overwhelming sense of panic.  Nothing seems to be calming and there is little a person can do to stop the feelings once the attack starts.

What Happens Before, During and After

Panic attacks normally come on suddenly with no warning.  They usually reach their intensity within one to minutes after they start.  After this they diminish in intensity, usually lastly a half an hour to several hours.  After the attack a person usually is able to go back to normal activities with no lasting issues.

Panic attacks usually begin between the ages of 20 and 30.  Women are more likely to suffer from them than men.

While a panic attack may differ from person to person there is a general pattern that will develop with reoccurring episodes.  Usually a week or two before the actual attack a person will start getting physical symptoms.  Then the panic attack occurs.

Many people go to the emergency room at the sign of a first time attack simply because it can be scary and often confused for a heart attack.  After the first attack, people become aware of the problem and it is usually diagnosed as anxiety panic attacks.

For some people the fear of having a panic attack starts to become a problem.  A person may avoid public situations in fear that they will have an attack.

Coping with Panic Attacks

It is important to not avoid treating panic attacks.  Many people will start to become removed from social situations, as mentioned.  Others may try to self medicate with alcohol or drugs.  The best treatment involves working with a doctor to find a successful way to cope with the attacks and prevent them in the future.

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