Roughly 11% of people living in the United States experience a panic attack each year. Of these individuals, up to 3% will develop a panic disorder.
Panic attacks don’t usually come out of nowhere. In fact, they’re usually linked to an underlying anxiety disorder, and the path to relief usually involves treating the condition that’s causing these episodes.
Our medical and psychiatric providers at Alpha Care Medical in Seaford, Millsboro, Harrington, and Dover, Delaware, are experts in treating anxiety disorders and panic attacks. In this blog, they explain what causes panic attacks and how you can get relief.
Why do panic attacks happen?
Here’s a look at the causes, risk factors, and symptoms of panic attacks:
Panic attacks usually aren’t a condition in and of themselves. Instead, they usually stem from anxiety and depressive disorders. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders, affecting about 30% of adults at some point in their lives.
It should be noted, however, that panic attacks can occur so frequently and be so intense for some people that this can cause life-altering worry and fear of the next episode. So while the attacks are still usually caused by an underlying anxiety or depressive disorder, the nature and severity of the attacks can lead to an additional diagnosis of panic attack disorder.
Most people begin to experience panic disorders around age 20, but some children experience anxiety disorders and panic attacks, too. Women are twice as likely as men to experience panic attacks or live with anxiety disorders. Risk factors for anxiety disorders and panic attacks can include:
- Having a family history of mental health disorders, especially anxiety
- Having a problem with substance abuse
- Having other mental health issues
- Residing or formerly residing in a stressful home environment
- Having periods of trauma or excessive stress
The symptoms of a panic attack are often fairly obvious. Chest pain, chest tightness, a racing heart, and difficulty breathing are common physical symptoms. Racing thoughts, fear of loss of control, and fear of death are common mental effects of a panic attack. Panic attacks can leave you feeling fatigued, frustrated, and fearful.
It should be noted that certain thyroid, respiratory, and cardiac conditions can create symptoms that may feel like a panic attack.
Can medication treat panic attacks?
The short answer is medication is often able to help. We can prescribe medication to treat the anxiety, which, in turn, can help reduce the number and severity of your panic attacks. However, there are other things we can try first or in combination with medication.
Before we recommend treatment, we sit with you for a full consultation to understand your medical and mental health history. Once we diagnose your condition, we can discuss your options, which could include any of the following:
When it comes to dealing with panic attacks, many people find relief in taking time for themselves, meditating, or engaging in other holistic practices that can help manage stress. Getting more exercise, eating a balanced diet, and getting at least seven hours of quality sleep each night may also help you manage your anxiety.
For most cases of anxiety, we usually recommend taking behavioral health therapy. Behavioral health therapy can help people who suffer from anxiety disorders and panic attacks get more control in their everyday lives.
If more conservative treatments don’t successfully treat your anxiety, we may recommend medication. Medication may be able to alleviate your anxiety and reduce your panic attacks. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are often prescribed to treat panic attacks, and your provider will give you specific instructions on how and when to use your medication.
You don’t have to live in fear of panic attacks. To learn how you can take back control of your life, call 800-818-8680 to book an appointment with Alpha Care Medical today.