What Happens When Panic Attacks Occur
Panic attacks are intense bouts of fear that cause physical reactions. Usually, symptoms reach their peak within 10 minutes or less and dissipate quickly thereafter.
Panic attacks can be either a one-time event or recurrent. Recurrent episodes can be devastating and disabling; those who experience frequent or prolonged panic attacks often worry about their condition and spend a great deal of time trying to avoid situations they fear may trigger another episode.
When someone experiences their first panic attack, they often blame themselves. They may believe they are losing control or having a heart attack, or that someone else is doing something to harm them. This type of self-blaming often leads to further distress.
Recurrent panic attacks may indicate the presence of a more serious issue called panic disorder. This can be caused by genetics, an underlying medical condition or mental health issues such as anxiety.
Treatment for panic disorder typically consists of psychological (talk therapy) or medication. Both can assist you in recognizing and altering unhealthy emotions, thoughts or behaviors causing your panic attacks.
Therapy with a counselor can help you recognize and manage your panic attacks and the thoughts causing them. They will also teach you healthy coping techniques to control these episodes and lessen their impact.
A popular coping strategy is to distract yourself by thinking about something other than your body or symptoms. This could include a song, place you visit often or the sights and sounds around you. Doing this gives you confidence in managing symptoms associated with an attack.