Posted: April 14, 2009
Last Updated: April 14, 2009
Everyone gets anxious. That dread pooling at the pit of your stomach, the sweat dripping from your brow and the shaking in your hands all signal your ‘flight or fight response’ kicking into high gear. Your response can be due to an attacking bear or standing in front of a crowded auditorium. That attack of nerves can be more than you suspect. It could be a panic attack.
A panic attack is an abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort, which can include at least four of the following symptoms: feeling of imminent danger or doom, the need to escape, heart palpitations or chest pain, profuse sweating, trembling or tingling, especially in your extremities, shortness of breath or feeling smothered, feeling of choking, nausea or abdominal discomfort, dizziness or lightheadedness, a sense of being unreal, fear of losing control or going ’crazy’, fear of dying, and chills or hot flashes.
Because these symptoms are closely associated with regular anxiety, only a mental health professional can disconcert if it is a panic attack or not. Panic attacks can be difficult to diagnose too. One study found that people sometimes see 10 or more doctors before being properly diagnosed, and that only one out of four people with the disorder receive the treatment they need. That's why it's important to know what the symptoms are, and to make sure you get the right help.
Undiagnosed panic disorders and the attacks associated with it can be frightening, but also the fear of repeated attacks can lead to other complications such as phobias, depression, substance abuse, medical complications and even suicide. Also many long-term panic attack sufferers sometimes find it hard to travel away from home or even leave their house.
In fact, the phobias that people with panic disorder develop do not come from fears of actual objects or events, but rather from fear of having another attack. This is one of the main symptoms that separate panic attacks from regular anxiety, the fear the attack will occur again. People prone to panic attacks will avoid certain situations or objects for fear that it will trigger another attack leaving them feeling out-of-control or vulnerable.
If you suffer from four or more repeated panic attacks, and especially if you have had a panic attack and are experiencing continued fear of having another, these are signs that you should consider finding a mental health professional, who specializes in panic or anxiety disorders.
Panic attacks can be effectively treated in a variety of ways including medication, meditation, on going counseling or specific therapies to help people combat the continued fear of panic attacks and learn to control their flight or fight response to make it more manageable.
To learn more about panic attacks or to seek a dignosis for your problem call Border Area Mental Health Services. To reach Border Area Mental Health Services in Grant and Hidalgo Counties, call 388-4412; in Catron County, call 533-6649 for referral; in Luna County, call 546-2174. For CRISIS, call 538-3488 or outside Silver City, call 1-800-426-0997.