What Causes a Panic Attack
What is a panic attack? Before understanding panic attack treatment it’s perhaps best to first learn what a panic attack is and what causes it. For, if we can understand the root causes of a problem then we can better equip are selves with the tools to solve the problem. A panic attack is a time period of intense fear felt by the person having the attack. This fear is usually caused by an external event and is often very sudden; the fear felt by this intense event will peak in about ten minutes from onset and then gradually dissipate over a couple of hours. One of the biggest problems surrounding panic attacks is that there are numerous residual effects which are felt by the victim. These residual effects often include a person feeling fear and anxiety in a situation or location where a panic attack had previously occurred. Many panic attack treatments focus themselves on alleviating these anxious and fearful moments from a victims life.
Panic attack victims often report a fear or sense of dying. What many people, who have suffered panic attacks before, will call the experience is it’s like ‘going crazy’, and that it often coincides with the hallucination of having a heart attack or ‘flashing vision’. Other symptoms of a panic attack include:
- Tunnel Vision: Often, those who experience a panic attack will have tunnel vision. Tunnel vision is caused by blood flow leaving the head and going to other parts of the body. This is kind of like a defence mechanism which the body provides.
- Hyperventilation: Caused by heavy breathing, hyperventilation is often one of the major symptoms of someone having a panic attack.
- Numb Sensation: People who suffer panic attacks often report a numb sensation throughout their body. Many scientists studying panic attack treatment believe this is another one of the bodies defence mechanisms.
- Wanting to Leave: Perhaps one of the more notable characteristics of a panic attack is that the victim has a strong urge to flee the scene. It’s almost as if the age old ‘fight or flight’ has kicked in and they believe that leaving the setting of where the panic attack has taken place is the best way to stop it.
Panic Attack Treatments
Understanding the symptoms of a panic attack is one the best places to start when trying to devise the best panic attack treatment for an individual. What’s important to know is that panic attack treatment will differ from patient to patient – each person will have a different set of symptoms and generally each person will have a different set of triggers.
Finding the Best Treatment
Deciding what the best treatment is involves looking at the three main methods of treatment. Over the last couple decades many scientists have devised new ways to cope with panic attack victims. Many of these treatment plans will vary from each patient, but many of them follow an overall foundation that’s based on both the symptoms, as well as the causes of a panic attack. The three main forms of treatment are:
- Breathing Exercises
Breathing Exercises for Panic Attacks:
By and by, one of the best ways to treat panic attacks is through breathing exercises. Breathing exercises are a great form of panic attack treatment because they are very self-explanatory; in other words, breathing exercises are a treatment that everyone can do on their own without the help of an external guide. Many panic attack sufferers will explain how as soon as they feel one of the symptoms of a panic attack that they’ll instantly begin the correct breathing exercises. A few of the best breathing exercises that work well for panic attack treatment are:
- 5-2-5 Count: Using your stomach, inhale for a count of 5 seconds. Then, at your maximal point of inhalation (the point where you feel you can’t breathe in any more) hold your breath for a count of 2 seconds. Then, exhale all the built up air over another count of 5 seconds. This cycle should be repeated twice, followed by 5 cycles of breathing normally. The overall point of this exercise, and why it’s proven to be effective as panic attack treatment, is because it focuses the person on breathing – and the process that pertains to it –instead of focusing on the intense fear and anxiety caused by the panic attack.
- Physical Exercise: Although this isn’t directly a breathing exercise, it is one of the best methods. Doctors suggest working out 30 minutes a day will reduce the onset of panic attacks. It’s more of a natural habit (like sleeping and eating healthy) that tends to lead to a healthier and more ordered mind.
- Paper Bag: Another breathing exercise is to breath into a plastic bag. Doctors warn, though, that breathing into a paper bag is not the best option and can be deadly if done for a long period of time. This is where understanding what set of triggers and symptoms a specific sufferer feels. For instance, panic attack victims who have hyperventilation as one of the consequences of having an attack are usually told by doctors to avoid using a paper bag as a coping mechanism.
Psychotherapies: In Treating Panic Attacks
In the last ten years a consensus has grown that the mix of breathing exercises and psychotherapies is the best kind of treatment. One of the methods surrounding psychotherapy is simply providing a victim with a complete set of knowledge of exactly what a panic attack is. By giving them the knowledge to better understand what they are feeling and experiencing it’s been proven that it will help many panic attack sufferers able to better cope with attacks themselves. This set of knowledge usually includes the best breathing exercises; this allows victims to be adequately prepared for any kind of panic attack in any kind of situation.
Another method of psychotherapies is known as cognitive reassurance. This is a doctor’s way of continually reminding a patient that panic attacks are not deadly by themselves. Panic attacks are merely mental breakdowns that can be subsided with the right kind of practice and understanding.