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The Effects of Panic Attacks on the Body

written by: Nicky LaMarco • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 2/4/2011

Panic attacks are not merely a matter of the mind. Commonly, people with anxiety disorders also have physiological symptoms of panic attacks which may range from fatigue to rashes.

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    What Are Panic Attacks?

    panic attacks cause the body The fight or flight response that our minds set into motion when we are in a life threatening situation is a survival mechanism. Unfortunately, a panic attack is what happens when this fight or flight response occurs in a non-life threatening situation. Panic attacks cause the body to release adrenaline, and send blood to the muscles needed to either fight or run.

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    Sleep Problems

    Having panic attacks is exhausting. This can cause insomnia, sleepiness, and fatigue. Panic attack sufferers often have nightmares as well. Generally, the sleep system is compromised in some way and that can cause a slew of other health problems. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation will help. Cardio exercise can also help. Sleep well and be well.

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    Stomach Problems

    Anxiety causes gastric upset, which can turn into more serious stomach problems if the panic attacks are left without treatment. Ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, and heartburn are some of the effects chronic anxiety can have on our bodies.

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    Paleness

    Sometimes panic attacks cause the body to turn pale. What happens is that the blood vessels in the skin move to other necessary parts of the body. The body moves the blood to other organs and muscles (the heart and lungs, for example) needed for flight or fight. The skin is not one of those organs. This causes the skin to become pale. Color will return when the panic attack subsides.

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    Sweating

    Sweating is a common panic attack symptom that is meant to reduce the body's temperature in the event one must run or fight in a life or death situation. Many experience sweaty palms when nervous. Panic attack sufferers can experience sweating all over.

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    Shaking

    During a panic attack our bodies will shake due to the muscles contracting and getting ready to fight or run. The muscles in our legs and arms are the ones that often shake so we can fight back or run to safety.

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    Rashes

    Due to the stress of having panic attacks one can get rashes on the skin. It can mimic eczema, which usually occurs on the feet or hands, but can show up elsewhere. If you do get a rash see a doctor right away to ensure it is not due to some other medical problem.

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    Panic Attacks Are Treatable

    Please see your doctor if you have not already. Panic attack treatments are out there and can be life-changing. Cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, medications, simple life changes, and traditional therapy can all help diminish anxiety. Anxiety disorders are real medical problems with effective treatments. Take the steps to help yourself become a healthier person.

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