Techniques for Identifying Panic Attacks

By: Rickie Smith

Researchers are constantly working to find more ways of helping people in identifying panic attacks. Panic or anxiety attacks are becoming more and more common but are not a sign of any mental disorder or deficiency, but more often simply the result of stress. In order to distinguish panic disorder from other medical conditions, the patient should have a thorough physical examination. The main ingredient in having a panic attack is the fact that you have an insurmountable fear of something.

The most important thing is to recognize the panic attack when it occurs. Many times these attacks seem to come on for no particular reason or they are triggered by something specific such as being in a crowded place. First, accept the fact that there is no simple test that will confirm panic attacks. If you have a sense of impending doom, severe anxiety, a heart that won't stop racing, shakiness, numbing about the face and/or muscle cramps then take this as a classic presentation for a panic attack. If you are having repeated episodes with symptoms similar to those described, panic anxiety should be considered.

Panic attacks are a frightening experience to have to go through. They can be a terrifying downward spiral of anxiety for the person enduring it. An attack can leave the person and those around feeling helpless. Panic attacks normally typically occur spontaneously, with no readily identifiable trigger. These attacks can even begin during sleep and will usually last for a few minutes, but to the person going thru it, they often feel like an eternity.

Anxiety attacks can have so many different symptoms that many times people having panic attacks are misdiagnosed and only after all other possibilities of illness are exhausted do doctors typically give the correct diagnosis. Therefore, panic attacks need evaluation not only to rule out other causes, but also to start treatment for the attacks themselves. Consequently, even if a person THINKS they are having one, immediate medical attention should be pursued.
The easiest way to recognize if you are having an attack is to remember how many of these attacks you experienced. If you suffer from repeated attacks it is most likely that you may have a panic disorder.

The good news is that panic disorder is highly treatable once it is correctly diagnosed. In fact, the correct treatment can reduce or completely prevent panic attacks in just about 70 to 90 percent of patients--especially when the panic disorder is recognized early. Even if a patient has a recurrent attack, it can be treated effectively. Tragically, today just one in three people with panic disorder receives the treatment. It is not uncommon for people with panic disorder to see as many as 10 different medical specialists while undergoing unnecessary tests before obtaining a correct diagnosis.

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