Panic attacks – Causes and symptoms

A common condition, usually confused with heart attacks, which can be controlled by yoga and meditation.

Your heart starts pounding heavily and suddenly you feel short of breath. Feeling of dizziness and “something” in your stomach overpowers you. Anxiety and restlessness surges to its peak. You wonder if you are going “crazy” or even worse, dying. You may be having a panic attack

What is a panic attack?

Panic or anxiety disorder is a condition where intense anxiety or fear grips the person suddenly, often without warning and no good reason. It can strike just out of the blue, come uninvited anywhere, anytime even during sleep.

It differs from the normal feeling of dread and nervousness, which occur in response to stressful events in our lives.

Most triggered panic attacks reach their peak within 10 minutes. These attacks usually last for 20 to 30 minutes.

Causes of panic attacks

Several environmental and biological factors can contribute in pressing the panic button.

  • Panic disorder is known to be hereditary. It runs in families.
  • Substance abuse such as drugs, alcohol, or caffeine.
  • A major event in one’s life like graduating, getting married, or having a baby.
  • A stressful lifestyle or even a traumatic happening such as death of a loved one.
  • Sudden withdrawal from a long term medication.
  • Certain medical conditions such as mitral valve prolapse, hypoglycaemia, and hyperthyroidism can lead to this.

Symptoms while having a panic attack

Symptoms can range from but are not limited to,

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Pain or tightness in chest
  • Palpitation or a pounding heart
  • Feeling of smothering or choking
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Severe shaking or trembling
  • Sweating, nausea or stomach ache
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • A fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Intense feeling of dread and doom

How to handle a panic attack

Proper medical attention is indeed needed to treat this condition but apart from that, there are things you can do to handle and deal with it all by yourself.

  • Learn about it. Seeking knowledge about the condition will help you take control over it.
  • Learn to control your breathing as it will help you to calm yourself during the attack.
  • Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation helps in a big way.
  • Exercise stress management techniques to reduce anxiety.
  • Quit smoking and limit alcohol as they are the major triggers.

Panic attack can be confused with a heart attack

Symptoms of heart attack and panic attack are strikingly similar and can be confused with each other. It is recommended to rule out all the possible medical causes of chest pain, palpitations, and difficulty breathing at the earliest.

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