Chris Jones grew up in a small town south of the metroplex. He has managed to remain close to his small town roots (really— he even owns an RV) and enjoys a relaxed lifestyle with his smart, pretty wife (we think he over-achieved) and his two terrific daughters.
After receiving his Bachelors in psychology from Baylor, Chris stuck around for his... Read More
Panic attacks are momentary episodes, in which anxiety upsurges into a swell of terror. The “attacks” usually crest at 10 minutes and subside entirely after 30 minutes. However, the physiological symptoms of panic attacks—which often mimic the warning signs of a heart attack—can generate lingering, psychological distress. Similar to the hyperarousal of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, this heightened agitation can actually enhance your likelihood of having future attacks.
In fact, individuals with a history of Panic Disorder are more likely to develop Agoraphobia, or a fear of entrapment in public places—which actually seems pretty logical. After all, when your panic attacks reduce you to curling into the fetal position and trembling on floor of a department store, it can be undoubtedly embarrassing!
Speaking of mortification, here’s a common misconception about panic attacks redressed: Although individuals who have panic attacks may come to over rely on family and friends for comfort and care, they aren’t attention seekers. In fact, frequent panic attacks usually motivate the sufferer to avoid future contact with any triggering event that could catalyze an episode! This in part is why panic attacks can be so devastating—because Panic Disorder can disrupt all aspects of your life, including your performance at work and school and your participation in everyday activities, like grocery shopping or driving your kids to soccer practice!
Panic attacks often have a discernible cause, for example: a debilitating attack of stage fright or an explosion of anxiety that occurs during a high-pressure exam. However, just as often, panic attacks can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph without any forewarning—even awakening an individual out of a sound sleep!
In addition, certain medical conditions—such as low blood sugar, hyperthyroidism, or specific forms of heart abnormalities—can trigger panic attacks in individuals who would not otherwise be considered susceptible. However, in the absence of an identifiable medical condition, it is unknown why some individuals are more likely to experience panic attacks than others; but genetics, defects in the neuro-processing of stressful stimuli, and endocrine dysfunction are speculated to play a major role. In addition, drug and alcohol consumption or discontinuation can activate the panic response.
Although medications can be prescribed to complement counseling for anxiety, psychotherapy is considered to be the gold standard for treating panic attacks. Without therapeutic intervention, individuals who are diagnosed with Panic Disorder are more likely to relapse. Fortunately, a wide range of counseling alternatives exist to effectively manage your panic. Your therapist may recommend: