Medication and Symptoms of Panic Attacks

Panic attacks can be extremely distressing and scary and a lot of people have said that they are one of the most horrible things they've ever felt. They arise from the well known 'flight or fight' reaction that is occurring in an out of place situation. Although there are some panic attack medications many people prefer to try natural coping techniques instead. Panic attacks usually last for around thirty minutes, which might not appear very long, but if you're a victim, that is a very long time to suffer the terror, deep unease and distress that they bring. In addition separate panic attacks may happen in cycles that can last for hours. Those who suffer from panic attacks characteristically feel continuous apprehension as they await the next attack.

Many people, suffering a panic attack for the first time think they are having a heart attack or nervous breakdown and often call up the emergency services. The 'fight or flight' reaction releases norepinephrine and adrenaline into the blood which prepares the body to cope with the expected crisis and this is the reason for the numerous symptoms that take place. There may perhaps be a panicked urge to run away from the area, queasiness, feelings of faintness, shortness of breath, sweating, and a fear of dying which all arise from the increased level of adrenaline in the body. These symptoms themselves add to the general anxiety which forms a positive feedback, causing additional adrenaline to surge into the blood which makes the physical reactions worse.

Panic Attack Medication

The usual medication for panic attacks is an antidepressant, frequently a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) such as sertraline, fluvoxamine, fluoxetine or paroxetine. This type of medication can lessen the regularity and the number of attacks and help to reduce anxiety, though they can take a few weeks to work. They can also have a number of side effects that include exhaustion, constipation, vomiting, a dry mouth and migraine. Benzodiazepines were often prescribed in the past and while extremely useful at stopping attacks have a high risk of addiction and are prescribed much less frequently these days. They can also have a number of side effects which may include lack of attentiveness, reduced awareness and coordination and drowsiness.

Some Helpful Methods of Coping

Lots of people who experience panic attacks and do not wish to use panic attack medication have found help by using one of the following methods. These may help to relieve the fear felt throughout an attack and stop it from getting worse.

1) Slow deep breathing - breath through the nose, expanding the diaphragm then exhale gradually. This may help to rectify the imbalance of carbon dioxide in the blood.

2) Using coping statements such as

"I can get through this even though it feels dreadful"
"Give it time - It will pass"
"A panic attack isn't going to kill me"

In Conclusion

Panic attacks are extremely upsetting in particular the first time they happen. Nevertheless if you are knowledgeable about the cause and understand that you aren't experiencing something that is life threatening you can learn to cope.

Category: Health and Fitness: Mental Health

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Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

Panic attacks can be very scarey even when they are happening to someone else. A friend of mine had an episode that seemed like a panic attack and wound up being a reaction to nasal spray. When you're not sure, I guess it is best to go to the emergency room.

bexh76 6 years ago

my panic attack was awful, I had suffered with gaspy breathing and tight chest for ages. not at all good. I wonder if it will become more wide spread as life becomes more chaotic?

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