No panic attack is pleasant, but repeated panic attacks can be terrifying. Unfortunately, as women age, they become increasingly more at risk for such a problem - twice as likely, in fact, as men. But learning how to identify what constitutes a panic attack in oneself and in others is important. Always remember, if you are experiencing panic attacks, talk to your doctor.
One of the most commonly reported symptoms of panic disorder - or rather, of the frequent panic attacks that compose it - is a sudden shortness of breath. This can lead to hyperventilation, which rapidly elevates heart rate. People sometimes mistake a panic attack for a heart attack, since this is one of the warning signs that the two conditions share.
As a state that affects both the body and mind, symptoms of panic disorder have a powerful mental component. Because of frequent and sporadic attacks, sufferers may feel that they're losing control and increasingly fear the next incident. Sheer fright can, in turn, trigger the next attack, resulting in a dangerous psychological cycle. Fear of specific locations is also common, such as the site of a traumatic event or of a previous, particularly severe attack.
In women, the risk of developing this condition increases during the various stages of menopause, due to the drastic hormonal fluctuations. Some menopausal side effects, such as hot flashes, chills, and sweating, may be confused with symptoms of panic disorder, especially if experienced in conjunction with other signals, if they seem to appear all at once, or if a woman is not of menopausal age. Trembling all over has also been linked to this disorder.
Further adding to discomfort, trouble with coordination, vision, and sense of touch are also frequent symptoms of panic disorder. Individuals may find that images blur together and that walking becomes a challenge. Many experience a tingling or numb sensation in the face or hands, as well, that can indicate the overproduction of adrenaline.
Problems with Balance
Though physically balancing the body can become difficult during an attack, this refers to the internal balance of the body, as the symptoms of panic disorder are rounded out by dizziness, headaches, and nausea. These can be brought on by the attacks themselves, but the mere thought of another episode is sometimes enough to produce these sensations.
Though panic disorder is highly disruptive, there is some good news: symptoms are treatable. Through healthy lifestyle changes and behavioral therapy, many find relief without the use of prescription drugs. If the symptoms above are familiar to you, meet with your doctor today to start planning your way to relief.
For further information on how to manage panic disorder follow the links below.
- Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. (n.d.). Let's Talk Facts About Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved September 5, 2013 from http://dmh.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/dmh/our_services/services_detail/?current=true&urile=wcm:path:/dmh+content/dmh+site/home/our+services/adults/adults+detail/education+anxiety
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2011). Predicting panic attacks. Retrieved September 5, 2013 from http://www.hhs.gov/news/healthbeat/2011/09/20110922a.html