Overpowering Fear: Finding Relief from Panic Attacks
Ask yourself if the following situation sounds familiar. You’re sitting at your desk or in your bed, doing something completely innocuous. You’re not doing anything remotely dangerous and you may not even be dwelling on negative thoughts. Suddenly, it hits you. You feel a sensation in your chest that feels like a squeezing. Your throat is closing while your heart begins to race. Maybe you feel sweaty and your limbs begin to tingle. Dizziness is setting in. You’ve been here countless times before and yet each time feels like the first time. Are you having a heart attack? Are you about to die?
Chances are if this hits close to home for you and is something you’ve experienced numerous times, no, you’re not dying. What you’re experiencing is a panic attack. To say they are distressing would be a vast understatement, especially if you know what they feel like. Panic disorder can be a challenging mental health condition to control by yourself. In fact, you shouldn’t try to control it yourself. This doesn’t mean you can’t take up lifestyle changes and habits to help yourself manage the condition. Far from it. In fact, you need to do these things. But, the road to recovery should begin with a consultation with a medical professional. A psychiatrist is an indispensable partner when it comes to managing panic disorder and trying to gain control over your panic attacks.
While you are strongly advised to get medical help regarding your panic disorder, arming yourself with knowledge is also of the utmost importance. It’s only by understanding what is happening to you that you can begin coming to terms with your panic disorder. The following is what you need to know about panic attacks and how they can be treated.
What are panic attacks?
Panic attacks are believed to be a malfunction of the body’s “fight or flight” response. Many of the things we do happen on a subconscious level. We developed this way to maximize our chances of survival. Our ancestors often had to deal with many life and death situations involving threats both animal and human. This almost extrasensory perception of threat and the body’s ability to respond in kind is a marvel. But, when it doesn’t work properly, that’s when panic can occur. When we’re threatened, adrenaline kicks in. This gives us the strength and speed to stand and fight or flee. When there is no threat present and this adrenaline response occurs while you’re just sitting at the dinner table, the sensation of your heart racing confuses you and can be mistaken for a heart attack. From there, it’s a cyclical effect of panicking over symptoms which just produces more panic.
What is panic disorder classified as?
Panic disorder is classified as an anxiety disorder. Anxiety itself is not a diagnosis. Usually a subtype is what a person has, though they can have multiple conditions at the same time. Typically, a person can have generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety, or panic disorder. Those are the four predominant kinds and they are all different. Generalized anxiety disorder is a persistent feeling of worry or dread despite the lack of threats. Obsessive compulsive disorder is marked by intrusive, unwanted thoughts that are responded to with compulsive actions in an effort to get rid of the thoughts. Social anxiety consists of having unwarranted feelings of alarm and worry in social situations. Panic disorder is characterized by the recurrence of the alarming episodes you are all too familiar with.
How can you control your panic?
Because the root cause of panic attacks can be both nature (genetic components) and nurture (environmental factors, how you were raised) your psychiatrist will try to identify the root cause of your anxiety. Perhaps it was a trauma in your life that you never properly addressed. A combination of therapy and maintenance medication may be suggested to deal with the factors you can control and the brain chemistry. Medication isn’t always prescribed if it’s believed that a therapy regimen is enough to provide you with the tools to change your way of thinking and manage your symptoms. Everyone is different, so your psychiatrist will have to evaluate your condition to come up with the best course of action.
Panic attacks can be very frightening. They can also feel like your life is in terrible danger. Even when you know what’s happening, the voice of doubt and uncertainty can be loud and hard to ignore. You need the tools to control and manage your panic so you can start living your life again. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. The team at Folsom Psychiatry Associates is here to provide you with the expert care you need so you can overcome panic and go back to enjoying all the things that you used to.