What Are Panic Attacks?

July 22, 2010

in Panic Attacks, Sleep-affecting Disorders

Those who experience panic attacks describe them as a highly intense sense of apprehension or fear which suddenly overcomes them for no apparent reason. Typical panic attacks have a duration of 30 minutes, but this can feel like an eternity to those caught in the grips of one. Panic attacks most usually start with what is termed “anticipatory anxiety” giving a telltale signal that one is pending. Furthermore, panic attacks often have the habit of happening during similar circumstances, locations or situations. The intensity and specific symptoms of panic attacks vary by person, but most who have had them describe the feeling as one of overwhelming terror. In many instances, panic attacks are actually mistaken for a nervous breakdown — or even a heart attack.

Nausea, shortness of breath, sweating and heart palpitations are some salient examples of the effects of panic attacks, and these symptoms in and of themselves often create further panic thus creating a self-defeating “positive feedback loop”. This means that the effects of panic attacks serves to increase the level of anxiety even further thus intensifying the panic attack. Panic attacks are differentiated from typical anxiety by their intensity and episodic nature. Panic attacks can be a sign of an underlying psychological condition, or they can also occur within people who’s mental health is otherwise fine.

There are several possible causes of panic attacks. Genetics can explain some scenarios where panic attacks appear to run in a family. Panic attacks can also have biological causes stemming from a disease, vitamin deficiency or a parasitic infection. Some medications have been shown to have panic attacks as a side effect, and some sufferers can tie panic attacks to the consumption of alcohol or drugs. Whereas some experience panic attacks at seemingly random intervals, others can pinpoint the exact situations which have the proclivity to trigger one.

It might be hard to believe, but panic attacks are part of the body’s self defense mechanism and are meant to protect you from harm. Panic attacks are a part of the body’s “fight or flight” response which serves to protect us from potentially dangerous situations. However, when they occur outside of a justified context, panic attacks can be debilitating and serve to prevent sufferers from leading productive lives. Panic attacks can also greatly impact our sleep, and those who suffer from chronic insomnia might want to investigate whether panic attacks play a role within their sleepless nights.

Those who suffer from panic attacks can find relief from therapy or, in some cases, pharmaceuticals. Panic attacks are highly treatable, and oftentimes self-help techniques including controlled breathing can help to keep them at bay. Should you be experiencing sudden senses of dread, chronic insomnia or inexplicable fear, then you might be one of the many who suffer from panic attacks. If so, the most important first step is recognizing your condition so you can embark upon finding the most appropriate treatment for your symptoms.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lionel Gural August 28, 2010 at 11:53 am

Hi, Thanks for the great post. You’ve helped me a lot.


Jennifer Levi September 4, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Thank you for a great post. I used to suffer from panic attacks for about five years up until about six months ago. After trying numerous ways to get rid of my panic attacks and anxiety disorder that included pills subscribed by doctors, which didn’t help me at all, I found out about this great new system named “PANIC AWAY”. It helped me tremendously to get back the control over my life, and I finally got rid of my panic attacks, and I am no longer afraid of them. Today with the help of the “panic away” system I know how to handle, control, overcome and even prevent the panic attacks. So if you suffer too from panic attacks, or you think you do, you must try it. It worked for me when nothing else did.
Good luck


Feny Irfany August 9, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Very nice. I like your article. This article is very interesting and rewarding for me personally. Panic attacks and anxiety disorder become everyone’s problems on certain conditions and of course we are not comfortable if it is in such condition. Everyone wants to overcome this panic attack and anxiety disorder. Thank you.


A person February 15, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I think the post was ok, but seriously it didn’t help me! I’m trying to figure out how the positive feedback loop works and maybe a diagram could be included. Do u think u could help me please!


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