home  Home
What is depression
Depression Q&A's
Help in your area
What's on in your area
Family and Friends
Treatments
People
Inspiration
Articles
Your contributions
Your stories
Books
In the news
Research
About Us
Feedback
Links
MESSAGE BOARD
CHAT ROOM
  contact us
Related Conditions

PANIC ATTACKS

Panic attacks can occur for no apparent reason, or when in a certain situation. The attack usually makes the person believe that they are either seriously ill or about to die, and can leave the person feeling distressed or shaken for quite a while afterwards. Panic attacks are quite common and can occur in approximately 1 in 10 people at some stage of their life.

Symptoms
Causes
Treatments
Research
Panic Links


Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of a panic attack can include:

  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest discomfort
  • Unsteady feelings
  • Choking or smothering sensations
  • Tingling
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Faintness
  • Trembling
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feelings of unreality
  • Fears of losing control, dying, or going insane

    Sometimes people who suffer from a panic disorder or panic attacks can also suffer from other related illnesses such as depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder. A related illness can also make panic attacks a lot more severe, so it is important to receive treatment for any related illnesses you have.

    top

    Causes

    The causes of panic attacks and panic disorder are not known, but life events or biological causes have shown to be the most common causes. Life events may cause panic disorder by disrupting what was normal life, for example, the death of someone close, or a stressful life-changing event. Biological causes may be the result of chemical imbalances or changes in the brain. This theory is still being researched, but it is believed that low levels of serotonin may be one of the causes of panic attacks and panic disorder.

    top

    Treatments

    Treatment of panic disorder is usually very effective and may, in some cases, only require an explanation and advice from your doctor. However, the use of drug and counselling type therapy is also useful and may be required. Antidepressant or tranquillising medication may be used or cognitive behavioural therapy in a therapy type situation.

    top

    Research

    Moclobemide and fluoxetine for panic disorder

    The long-term treatment of panic disorder

    Antidepressants in panic disorder

    There is also a Health Translations Online Directory that enables you, health practitioners, and those working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities to easily find reliable translated health information.

    The Directory provides web links to online multilingual resources across the health sector including government departments, peak health bodies, hospitals, community health centres and welfare agencies.

    top

    The factual information on this page was compiled from:
    Health Information Library (http://www.beryl.net)


    COMMENTS
    by people who have had experience with Panic Attacks.

    Please send us your comments and experiences with Panic Attacks to share with others.

    I have been suffering from panic disorder for almost 18 months. Suffering is the appropriate word because it has been the most difficult period in my life. It has been very difficult to accept that I have panic disorder (and I'm not sure I'm even fully there now!!) because my physical symptoms are so vivid that I find it hard to believe that there is not something seriously wrong with me (physically I mean). I have tried to move past the symptoms on the basis that there is no physical basis for them, and I have my good and bad days, but the disorder then finds a different way to undermine my efforts to get well. The disorder started off for me with waking up from sleep to extreme palpitations and shortness of breath. I was terrified but managed to calm myself down. The next attack occurred about a month later and was very similar. From then forward I had similar feelings of palpitations associated with feelings of impending doom while I was awake and got up the courage to talk to my GP about it. She rang every test she could think of (tests for stomach virus, blood tests, thyroid tests, even referred me to a cardiologist) all tests came back negative. Even my doctor was reluctant to believe I had a panic disorder as I didn't seem the type of person (calm, sensible, smart etc). After she diagnosed me with the disorder, she even relented and sent me for a CT scan on my head just to pacify me as I could not accept the diagnosis. After the CT came back negative, I did accept my condition for a while. Since that time though my symptoms progressed to chronic nausea, dizziness and feelings of impending doom. My current symptoms are all of these plus feelings of unreality and depersonalisation and the daily fear that I am dying.

    (13/08/2005)

    My first attack of anxiety/panic occurred when I was very young and had just started school, comfortably that is, then the terrifying attack occurred for the first time. I don't know how I dealt with it back then but I do clearly remember the out of control feelings, scared and no where to turn, not even to parents, who would often say  "The scared feeling" will go away.

    Well the parents were right for a while, but the attacks continued every now and then, sometimes months and later years apart. The end result was always the same, scared and confused and often the thought of being out of control with the flushes, nausea etc.

    Now years later I discovered that alcohol eased the anxiety for a long time and masked the symptoms until one day I had the worst attack, where I could not cope, literally. Trembles, nausea, fear and confusion all set in one long ride to hell. This is where some fleeting thoughts of self harm arose. I could not eat, sleep or function, it would have been easy to commit suicide at this stage but I didn't. I urged my partner to ring for my local GP, one who could not see me for at least six days. Of course this was of little help to me. I once again urged my partner to help me do something to help myself and the answer was to take me to my local hospital. (At this stage depression had also set in big time).

    At the local hospital, the staff and mental health people all suggested strongly that my symptoms where cause by alcohol withdrawal, once again no-one was listening to me, even my partner who does not like me to have a drink (admitting I did drink on a daily basis).

    On this particular morning I awoke to the Panic attack, with depressive symptoms as well and I knew something was wrong.,The health system whilst trying to help were looking in the wrong direction and again not listening, "you need drug and alcohol therapy" was their suggestion.

    At this stage I somehow convinced the medical people that the attacks occur whether I drink or not, I need something to stop the attack now and follow some form of treatment for "PANIC ATTACKS", not drinking therapy. (I do admit that the drinking may have played a part with the depression issue, due to the fact that I would often have negative thoughts about my condition and other people's diagnoses, and the fact that I could not do what other peers where doing, for the fear of another attack). It was agreed that Valium would be prescribed right here and now, on the proviso that several blood tests "must be performed" before I could leave the hospital. The Valium was to be short term (five days), until I could see my GP. The Valium removed me from my hell hole in a matter of hours and I stopped drinking on the same day. I have not had a drink since. My GP prescribed some antidepressants which have led me to be able to think differently and function normally. (GP review at this stage every two weeks). I also received the results from my blood test, which revealed no alcohol, illicit drugs or any abnormality in my system at the time of the "PANIC ATTACK". Withdrawal symptoms in my case was not the issue, but purely a disease or condition I was born with.

    I am glad that I went to the hospital whilst suffering these terrible symptoms so that some knowledgeable ones can see what it is like, even if they did refer to me as a drunk or drug addict who has lost it... ( I usually drink about six beers a day over a four hour period before dinner and a glass of port thereafter). I don't know where I found the strength to leave the house to seek help whilst having an attack, but help is available, but be honest and addiment!

    Mixmad (24/01/2006)

     


  • Your feedback and input will be greatly appreciated.

    If you have a service or product that may be of assistance to people with depression or a related condition, or their support people, please contact us for details on how to be listed or contribute to this site.

    Contact us | Site map | Privacy | Disclaimer
    Copyright  2005 depressioNet