Overcoming Panic Attacks

Overcoming Panic Attacks

Overcoming panic attacks is a feat that in and of itself can appear challenging to those suffer from them. Understanding panic attacks can help one face the issue and take charge. Panic attacks are characteristic of panic disorder which estimated 1.5% to 1.6% of the adult US population suffers from. This translates to over 3 million people experiencing panic attacks at some point in their lives in the US. However, often times those who suffer from the panic attacks feel alone in their distress.

Panic disorder usually begins to afflict the sufferers in their late teens through about mid-30s. This is not to discount the fact that it may affect people in their childhood as well as in later in life. Also, women are also about twice as likely to suffer from panic disorder as men. During a panic attack, a person feels intense fear and discomfort that abruptly presents without an actual external threat to their being. The medical diagnosis holds this experience to be a true panic attack if within that period, the sufferer feels at least 4 of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, palpitations, feeling of choking, flushes or chills, fear of dying, chest pain, dizziness, trembling, sweating, nausea, depersonalization, numbness or tingling, and fear of going crazy. The fear usually continues to haunt the sufferers of panic attacks with the anxiety of having another panic attack resulting in avoidance of the situations that are believed to have caused them in the first place.

Advances in theTreatment of Panic attacks

No matter how desperate the situation may seem to those who suffer from panic attacks, the outlook on overcoming panic attacks is bright. The understanding of the brain has come a long way and utilizing that improved understanding, various means of helping those who experience panic attacks have become readily available to those who seek help. It is estimated that about 70% to 90% are able to receive significant benefit. It is largely agreed that cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications are to be used in conjunction to best treat people suffering from panic attacks.

With cognitive-behavioral therapy, the patient usually meets with a therapist for a few hours a week to determine the thoughts that provoke the panic attacks. The patient is then armed with the knowledge that though the fear that these thoughts provoke feel real and frightening, they are not actually dangerous. The patients are encouraged to face the escalating fear head on avoiding building on the fear by projecting with what ifs. The patients are allowed to focus on the present and the progress they are able to make in the present no matter how small. In other words, patients are led to recognize the why of their panic attacks and they learn how to change their behavior to change the outcome at a relaxed pace. The absolute key to the therapy is the gradual improvement, not a dramatic challenge to the belief as to what the patient perceives to be a great threat.

Looking to the Future Free of Panic Attacks

Overcoming panic attacks can also be approached with pharmacotherapy. Medications are utilized to avoid bringing on the panic attacks reducing the frequency as well as the severity once brought on. When these are accomplished, the cognitive-behavioral therapy can be even more effective because the patients are more able to face the situations that provoke the attacks with more confidence and utilize the techniques to recognize the problems and stop the escalation into a full blown panic attack. Some of the medications often employed in treating panic attacks include antidepressants and benzodiazepines and they usually have to be carefully fitted for each patient. Antidepressants must be carefully titrated up as to avoid unnecessary side effects and sudden stopping of the mediation can bring the panic attacks back. Benzodiazepines such as alprazolam, clonazepam, and lorazepam usually take effect right away but when weaning off patients may feel withdrawal symptoms.

For anyone who is seeks overcoming panic attacks, the horizon is bright. With the right therapy approach specifically designed for the specific patient, panic attacks can be brought under control and essentially fully overcome. The key to overcoming panic attacks is to face the challenge of recognizing the fact of the problem. Once the problem is identified and admitted one can seek to control them.

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