Anxiety & Panic attack Frequently Asked Questions
Find the answers to your most common questions
2.Anxiety is a normal response to stress or danger and is often called the ‘flight or fight’ syndrome. This process involves adrenalin being quickly pumped through the body enabling it to cope with whatever catastrophe may come its way. The problems arise when this response is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation, or indeed is generated when there is no danger present. The physical symptoms of anxiety are;
Shortness of breath
Butterflies in stomach
Urge to pass urine/empty bowels
Pins and needles
The psychological symptoms of anxiety are;
Fear of losing control
Dread that something catastrophic is going to happen (such as blackout, seizure, heart attack or death)
Feelings of detachment
3. Although the exact cause of panic disorder is not fully understood, studies have shown that a combination of factors, including biological and environmental, may be involved. These factors include.Family history. Panic disorder has been shown to run in families. It may be passed on to some people by one or both parents, like hair or eye color.Abnormalities in the brain. Panic disorder may be caused by problems in parts of the brain.Substance abuse. Abuse of drugs and alcohol can contribute to panic disorder.Major life stress. Stressful events and major life transitions, such as the death of a loved one, can trigger a panic disorder.4. Panic attack symptoms include the following:
Fear of dying
Dizziness or lightheadedness
stomach in knots
Neck, shoulder, and back tension
Worry of having a terminal illness
Fear of having a heart attack
Feeling of terror for no apparent reason
Flushes or chills
Tingling or numbness
Feelings of unreality
Fear of losing control
The symptoms above are a list of the most common symptoms. You may experience symptoms that are not on this list. Please talk with your Doctor about any and all symptoms you are experiencing.
5. Panic is a sudden intense response to normal thoughts or sensations. This is often accompanied with a feeling of impending doom, and physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, palpitations, pins and needles. Anxiety is more of a psychological condition, prolonged by thought processes and rituals which cause the person affected to avoid certain situations which, they believe, will exacerbate their anxiety, and this avoidance behavior then affects the quality of their life.
6.Absolutely! Most people with anxiety/panic disorder can lead normal panic free lives. The key is finding the treatment option that works best for you. Unfortunately it can take trial and error to find the best medication or treatment that works fits your needs.
7. Most people have experienced the kind of frightening situations where their hearts pound, their minds race, their palms and brows sweat, their breathing quickens, and they feel a need to escape. Having a near accident or facing the threat of harm or injury will produce just such a reaction. If you get panic attacks, you know they produce the same response. The difference is that during a panic attack there is no true danger.Get your family to understand what you go through by having them recall an intensely uncomfortable and overwhelming moment of danger. Pointing out to them how they would do almost anything to avoid that feeling may help them understand..
8. Antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications are the most commonly used medications for treating panic attacks.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) have been used to treat panic disorders for more than 40 years. These include imipramine, which has been studied the best, desipramine and nortriptyline. However, TCAs have largely been replaced by newer antidepressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), which include paroxetine, fluoxetine, sertraline, fluvoxamine, citalopram and venlafaxine.
The SRIs are effective antidepressants and anti-anxiety agents. The popularity of SRIs is due partly to the fact that they cause fewer side effects that the TCAs.
Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety medications used to treat panic and other anxiety disorders. These medications can cause physical dependence and produce withdrawal symptoms, so they should be prescribed only for people who cannot tolerate or who do not respond to SRIs or TCAs. Alprazolam is the best-studied benzodiazepine, but clonazepam (another benzodiazepine) also has been used to treat panic disorder because it is longer acting, requires less frequent doses, and causes fewer withdrawal symptoms than alprazolam.
Both antidepressants and benzodiazepines work because they block the panic attack. Some people with panic disorder say the medications “put a lid” on their attacks. They can feel the attack coming, but instead of having a full-blown attack, the feeling is blocked or controlled.Medications can block panic attacks and decrease a person’s fear of having another attack (called anticipatory anxiety). That fear also improves when the person with panic disorder repeatedly puts himself or herself in the feared situation until confident that an attack will not occur.
13. The symptoms and the length of symptoms are the most common. They can last minutes, hours, and in some cases for days. If your attacks are lasting more that several hours please contact your Psychologist or Doctor as soon as possible.
14. The short answer is possibly, but not likely intentionally. Research has shown that most forms of anxiety run in families. For example, if we took one hundred people with panic disorder and one hundred without and carefully interviewed all the first-order family members (parents, siblings and children—if they are old enough) our results would show that approximately 25 % of the family members of those with panic disorder would also meet criteria for the disorder. However, we would only find panic disorder in about two-percent of the family members of those who don’t have panic disorder. Furthermore, if we compared identical twins who share 100 % of their genes with fraternal twins who share, on average, 50 % of their genes we would find that if one twin has an anxiety disorder his or her identical twin would be far more likely to have the disorder than would the fraternal twin. However, this does not necessarily mean that anxiety disorders are transmitted through genes.
15. Yes, click on the following link for more information and assistance in finding an online therapist
16. You can find Doctors and Therapists in your area (US) by clicking on the following link: http://www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/databases/
17. No. This is one of the most common asked questions. Even though during a panic attack one may feel as though they are going to have a heart attack or stroke, statistics show no one has ever died from a panic attack. Back to top
18. when anxiety causes you to ruminate (to think in a way that causes you to feel anxious), you generate the need to ‘dream out’ the arousal during REM sleep.It has been known since the 1960’s that depressed people dream up to 3 times as much as non-depressed people.This then leads to exhaustion upon waking, a problem often reported by depressed people. As their hormonal system and brain recover during the day, they start to feel better.
Back to top 19. Yes. Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness, as the symptoms often occur for no apparent reason and do not go away. Rather than functioning as a call to action, these alarming reactions can make everyday experiences sources of potential terror. Below you will find a list of the most common anxiety disorders:
21. Support from family and friends is an important part of recovery process but ultimately the person who is suffering from the phobia will have to do most of the work. However, you can lend support by learning about the disorder, being flexible, praise small steps forward and be realistic in your expectations. Your patience will be of great help.
22. When you undergo treatment for an anxiety disorder, you and your doctor or therapist work together as a team to find the best approach to treat your anxiety. That will include a detailed history of your previous treatment, as well as overall health. When treatment begins, some people feel much better after a single session while others require weeks of care. Most people are treated with therapy of some sorts while others benefit from medication. If one treatment doesn’t work, the odds are good that another one will. Don’t give up hope.
Back to top 23. Agoraphobia is a condition which develops when a person begins to avoid spacers or situations associated with anxiety. Typical “phobic situations” might include driving, shopping, crowded places, traveling, standing in line, being alone, meetings and social gatherings.
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Back to top 24. Yes. Anyone at any age can develop panic attacks. It is more common for individuals in their late teen to early twenties to develop panic, but very young children and older adults can also develop panic attacks.
Back to top 25. NO! Anxiety feels horrific, sometimes you may even feel as if you are dying, but this simply is not the case. Anxiety is your body reacting inappropriately to normal thoughts or feelings causing the body to set off the “fight or flight” responseBack to top
26. If symptoms are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical examination. Although there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose panic disorder, the doctor may use various tests to look for physical illness as the cause of the symptoms. If no physical illness is found, you may be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist, mental health professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for panic disorder. The doctor bases his or her diagnosis on reported intensity and duration of symptoms, including the frequency of panic attacks, and the doctor’s observation of the patient’s attitude and behavior. The doctor then determines if the symptoms and degree of dysfunction suggest panic disorder.Back to top
27. Panic disorder can be successfully treated, and sufferers can go on to lead full and satisfying lives. With appropriate treatment, nearly 90% of people with panic disorder can find relief. Unfortunately, many people with panic disorder do not seek treatment. Without treatment, panic disorder can have serious consequences and can severely impair quality of life. Complications of untreated panic disorder include.Avoidance. A person may discontinue any activities that seem to trigger a panic attack. This can make a normal work and home life nearly impossible.Anticipatory anxiety. This refers to anxiety that is triggered merely by thinking about the possibility of having an anxiety attack.Agoraphobia. This is the fear of being in places or situation in which an attack may occur, or from which escape would be difficult or highly embarrassing. This fear can drive people to avoid public places and crowds, and may even progress to the point that the person will not leave his or her home. About one-third of people with panic disorder develop agoraphobia.
28. Panic disorder cannot be prevented; however, there are some things you can do to reduce stress and decrease symptoms, including:Stop or reduce your consumption of products that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola and chocolate.Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies. Many contain chemicals that can increase anxiety symptoms.Exercise daily and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
29. More than 3 percent of Americans will suffer from panic disorder, characterized by repeated panic attacks, at some time during their lives. Most people usually develop the condition in their 20s.Twice as many women as men develop the disorder, and it tends to continue later into a woman’s life. Panic disorder affects whites and African Americans equally. Data on other races are not available.Genetics may play a role in who gets panic attacks. People with parents, brothers or sisters who have panic disorder are approximately eight times more likely than others to develop the condition. Because genes alone do not entirely explain who gets panic disorder, researchers think that other factors, such as emotional experiences in childhood, also may play a contributing role in the condition.Back to top
30. Studies have shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a highly effective treatment for panic disorder. During CBT, psychiatrists teach people with panic disorder different relationship and desensitization techniques and help them change the way they think in order to help them control their panic.For example, some people who have panic disorder think, “I’m going to die from this attack.” This fear causes them to overreact, worsening their anxiety and their avoidance of the particular situations they associate with panic attacks. This fear also may cause people with panic disorder to insist on unnecessary medical testing, even when previous tests were normal.By changing the way they think about their fears, CBT can help people decrease the severity of panic attacks or it may stop them altogether. It also may help eliminate unnecessary medical care and testing.Back to top
31. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on inner feelings and motivations and the importance of relationships with other people. Many psychiatrists have expertise in this form of therapy and use it routinely to help people with panic disorder.During psychodynamic psychotherapy, psychiatrists help people with panic disorder explore their past and present experiences to uncover and overcome emotional conflicts they may not realize are bothering them. Becoming aware of these conflicts can help people with panic disorder recognize and master the hidden causes of their anxiety. Because conflicts can trigger panic attacks, resolving them can decrease the intensity and frequency of attacks.Psychodynamic therapy has not yet been studied as well as cognitive behavioral therapy as a treatment for panic disorder, but some evidence suggests psychodynamic therapy can improve the symptoms of the disorder. In one recent study, 14 people with panic disorder completed a psychodynamic psychotherapy treatment consisting of two therapy sessions each week for 12 weeks. The study found that all but one of the participants showed a remission of panic disorder. (Remission was defined in the study as being panic free for three weeks with a 50 percent reduction of a variety of symptoms measured on a panic disorder assessment scale.) Forty weeks after the program ended, the study authors followed up with 10 of the 14 people who had completed the therapy, and nine were still in remission.
32. The way panic attacks develop over time varies from person to person. For most people with panic disorder, the severity of attacks will wax and wane over time. Other people may have periods with no attacks, and then suffer an unexpected attack. Treatment can be effective in controlling the panic, reducing persistent fears about having the attacks, and helping one confront the situations in which they occur.The sooner people with panic disorder are treated, the better. Early intervention and treatment of someone with panic disorder, before any fearful, phobic behaviors are well established, tends to produce better results than treating people after they have had the disorder for a long time.
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34. It is quite common to suffer from more than one anxiety disorder at once, this is known as co morbidity. Many agoraphobics, for example, may find that their problems started with panic attacks and panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder sufferers may also have generalized anxiety disorder. What links all the disorders is an increased level of anxiety which the brain channels into an irrational fear or pattern of thought.Back to top
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This web site provides general information: Do not use the information on these pages as a substitute for evaluation and treatment by a Professional Health Care Provider.
Panic Documentary Panic – A film to help you cope From: Amiden2009
Oct 28, 2011 This trailer is about a documentary featuring Kim Basinger, Earl Campbell and others struggling with anxiety and panic disorder.
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