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What are Daily Panic Attacks?

written by: HeatherW • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 12/15/2010

Daily panic attacks are frightening moments when a person feels as if they are going to die, or as if they are going "crazy". Here we discuss signs, symptoms, and treatment options for panic attacks.

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    Introduction to Daily Panic Attacks

    Panic Attack Daily panic attacks are a symptom of a much larger disease called panic disorder. Panic disorder is a disease in which a person has frequent, often disabling panic attacks. Worrying about when the next panic attack will come on is a symptom of panic disorder and often brings on more panic attacks. People who suffer from panic disorder also often have frequent panic attacks that are not tied to any certain situation. Panic attacks can even occur while someone is sleeping.

    Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options available, so you can get back to your normal self and live your daily life without these interruptions.

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    Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack

    There are many signs and symptoms to watch out for. When you know what they are, it is often much easier to deal with daily panic attacks as you will be prepared for them and understand that what you are experiencing is a panic attack and not something more sinister.

    Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack:

    • Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
    • Heart palpitations or a racing heart
    • Chest pain or discomfort
    • Trembling or shaking
    • Choking feeling
    • Feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings
    • Sweating
    • Nausea or upset stomach
    • Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or faint
    • Numbness or tingling sensations
    • Hot or cold flushes
    • Fear of dying, losing control, or going crazy

    Most panic attacks happen when you are not at home, start abruptly, and last between twenty and thirty minutes.

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    Treatments for Panic Attacks

    Treatments for daily panic attacks include cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, and self-help.

    • Cognitive Behavior Therapy - In cognitive behavior therapy, the patient is encouraged to look at their fears in a more realistic light. It focuses on the behaviors and thought patterns that are contributing to the panic attacks. Cognitive behavior therapy teaches patients how to look at the panic attacks in a less fearsome manner. It is particularly helpful for those who avoid certain places and situations out of fear of having another panic attack. For instance, if you have a panic attack in the grocery store, what is the worst thing that could really happen? Yes, you might be terrified, but you could get to the bathroom, and practice deep breathing exercises until the attack has passed, and in any case nothing disastrous will occur.
    • Medication Therapy - There are two classes of medications used to treat panic attacks - anti depressants and benzodiazepines. Anti depressants (Paxil) are useful for long term panic attack control, however, it takes several weeks for them to take effect. Benzodiazepines (Xanax), however, have a sedative effect that is quick acting, and is normally prescribed to be taken at the time of the attack for quick relief.
    • Self-Help Techniques - To help control panic attacks avoid smoking and caffeine as these are both stimulants. Practice deep breathing so that at the time a panic attack you are better equipped to deal with it effectively. In addition you can learn relaxation techniques as they can decrease your stress levels which in turn will lessen the chance of a panic attack occurring in the first place.

    You should also talk with your mental health care professional about the variety of treatment options for panic disorder.

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    References

    1. Understanding Panic Attacks - http://www.helpguide.org/mental/panic_disorder_anxiety_attack_symptom_treatment.htm
    2. Panic Attacks - http://www.emedicinehealth.com/panic_attacks/page7_em.htm
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    Photo Credit

    1. Panic Attack - Photobucket: pithoff