Panic attacks are very common and can often exist as a symptom on their own or can also be part of another condition, such as generalized panic disorder. A panic attack can happen without any warning, and can often occur for little or no apparent reason.
Although these attacks may appear to be random, current research shows that they are bought on by our own ‘fight or flight’ mechanism, which triggers our hormones (particularly adrenaline) to flood our body in preparation to defend ourselves from a perceived threat. This is a normal and helpful reaction but in the case of panic attacks it is triggered in situations where it is not needed.
Living with panic attacks
The effects of panic attacks can often continue long after an attack being apprehensive about when the next attack might occur causes persistent worrying and significant anxiety between attacks. Panic attacks can seriously affect the way a person lives their life by limiting what they do or where they go as they try unsuccessfully to avoid situations that trigger the attack. Experiencing a panic attack is extremely frightening, upsetting and very uncomfortable.
Research suggests that as many as 1 in 10 people experience occasional panic attacks, which are often triggered by a stressful event, or situation. However, people suffering with generalized panic disorder can have attacks on a regular and recurring basis.
Signs you are having a panic attack
Symptoms of a panic attack can be so severe that those suffering often believe they are having a heart attack or suffering from another life threatening illness. Common symptoms include:
- A feeling of impending death
- Chest pains
- Pounding Heartbeat
- Profuse sweating
- Trembling or shaking
- Choking sensations
- Extreme exhaustion
Panic attack causes
Panic attacks occur when anxiety causes adrenalin to be produced resulting in severe symptoms. There are a number of factors that can contribute to a panic attack, such as:
- A traumatic or stressful experience such as bereavement. Feelings of panic and anxiety may occur soon after the event, or may appear even years later when they are not expected.
- Some new research suggests panic attacks may be more likely if a close member of your family also suffers from them.
- A chemical imbalance in the brain may also increase the risk of panic attacks
Treatment for panic attacks
Hypnotherapy can help reduce anxiety by direct suggestion or by behavioural training. It can be used to:
- Desensitize the sufferer from certain stresses
- Can help take back control by recognising and regulating previously inappropriate and unhelpful responses
- Teach new ways to relax
- Help break habitual behaviours
- Remove triggers for anxiety.
- Use new psychological techniques to help the patient take back control of their life