When your body senses a threat, it acts accordingly by increasing your heart rate and preparing you for a “fight or flight” reaction. Occasionally, your mind perceives fears or stress as imminent dangers and begins a fight or flight response when it’s not necessary. The result of this untimely response is a panic attack.
Panic attacks can be isolated events or something that someone experiences several times in their life. Having recurrent panic attacks is known as panic disorder. Every year, around 11% of Americans experience at least one panic attack, and around 2-3% of Americans struggle with panic disorder.
Both panic attacks and panic disorder can run in families, but they can also develop on their own without a family history. Women are almost twice as likely to experience a panic attack than men, and some conditions such as hyperthyroidism, heart or lung diseases, and mood disorders (such as depression) increase your chances of panic attacks. The regular use of nicotine products, caffeine, or alcohol also increases your chances of experiencing a panic attack.
Panic attacks can feel a bit different for each person but usually contain some of the following common symptoms:
If you find yourself having regular panic attacks or making a conscious effort to change your daily routine because of your panic attacks, you may be experiencing panic disorder. *If you are having chest pains, difficulty breathing, or fainting, seek medical care immediately.
Panic attacks are not life-threatening, but they can certainly feel like it. If you or someone you know has experienced a panic attack, chances are you’re looking for ways to prevent having another one. Here are some tips for decreasing your risks of experiencing more or worsening panic attack symptoms:
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself in the throes of another panic attack at some point. How you manage your panic attacks while they are happening can determine how long and intense they are. The next time you feel one sneaking up on you, give these tips a try:
Persistent panic attacks can cause chronic anxiety or panic disorder that further disrupts your life. You could eventually have difficulty concentrating, develop agoraphobia (a fear of certain places or situations that you associate with your panic attacks), or have trouble sleeping. Seeking professional help for your panic attacks will help you avoid these complications.
If you or someone you know suffers from panic attacks in California or Nevada, contact Medens Health for support by visiting our online portal or by calling or texting (833) 624-5400.
The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.
If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.