Panic Attacks and What You Can Do

If you've ever had a panic attack, you'll know that it's a terrifying situation to be in. When you have a panic attack, you suddenly feel scared and anxious, like you're in danger, even if there's no obvious reason for you to feel that way. Panicking is an unpleasant experience for anyone, but for those with panic disorder, it can be debilitating.

Symptoms of a Panic Attack

Typically, a panic attack will begin suddenly, and it can last for ten minutes or more. Symptoms can include:

A panic attack usually consists of four or more of these symptoms. Another key aspect of a panic attack is that these sensations happen with no apparent cause: There's no actual danger causing the person to panic. They can happen at any time, without any warning.

Effects of Panic Disorder

Having a panic attack can be a horrible feeling, but the effects of panic disorder go beyond the attacks themselves. People who frequently experience panic attacks may find themselves avoiding places and circumstances that they fear could bring on another attack, or they might steer clear of situations in which they previously had an attack; these behaviors can potentially lead to the development of phobias. They may also miss work or even begin to avoid public places altogether.

Coping With Panic Attacks

There's no way to halt a panic attack, but there are a couple of things you can do to make the experience more tolerable until it ends.

You can also try making changes to your lifestyle that may help to prevent panic attacks. These include:

If you find that panic attacks are having a significant negative effect on your life and you can't cope with them on your own, you may need to seek professional help. A psychotherapist may be able to use cognitive behavioral therapy to teach you techniques you can use to manage your symptoms. Medications can also be prescribed to treat panic disorder, such as beta-blockers or antidepressants. Common medications used to treat panic attacks include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft and benzodiazepines like Xanax and Klonopin.