Diana was watching TV after a day’s work. Suddenly, she felt a strong feeling of dizziness and suffocation, as if there was sufficient oxygen in the air we breathe. Then her heart began beating with such speed and force that was terrified, thinking she could die of a heart attack. She began to sweat, she felt shaky and unstable. All this reached its maximum intensity in 60 seconds. It was the eighth panic attack she had that month.
The panic attack is a sudden and intense feeling of fear and danger, a desire to escape, as well as physical symptoms associated with anxiety. The symptoms can vary from person to person but usually occur four or more of the following:
Feeling of choking or shortness of breath
Pain or discomfort in the chest
Nausea or abdominal discomfort
Feeling of unreality
Fear of losing control or going crazy
Fear of dying
Heat waves or chills
Panic disorder is fairly common, with 1 in every 75 people worldwide. The first attack usually appears during adolescence or early adulthood, so sudden and unexpected, usually for a period of prolonged stress (illness and / or death of a loved one, move to another city or country, the birth of a child , pressures at work or studies, etc.) and let the person who has suffered through a state of great concern and anxiety may have thought that any serious illness or could have another attack at any time. The first reaction is usually to go to the emergency, but after a recognition, doctors say that everything is in perfect condition and has nothing.
Situations occur in which the attacks are varied: walking down the street, driving and even during sleep and seems to occur suddenly, without having anything in particular that trigger, contrary to what happens in the simple phobia the anxiety symptoms that appear after being exposed to the feared object (eg when a person with a phobia about snakes is one of these reptiles). But in other cases before the attack have experienced a period of weeks or months during which his heart noticed faster than normal.
Agoraphobia to panic
After several attacks, fear and concern rising. Many people begin to avoid situations in which such attacks were the situations where it would be difficult to escape or get help if they would attack or situations where they would feel ashamed if they had such an attack, such as social gatherings. Thus, his life is looking more and more restricted, which can reach up to a moment that dare not leave home for fear of having an attack. This is called agoraphobia, and occurs in a large number of people with panic disorder, but not all.
As the condition worsens over time and will not change things, depressed or just some people resort to alcohol and drugs to try to control their symptoms. Labor problems and may have even lost the job or leave. One in 5 attempts suicide. They are often misdiagnosed because its symptoms are confused with physical illnesses such as heart disease, hyperthyroidism and certain types of epilepsy.
Situations and activities that tend to avoid agoraphobic
Being away from home, being alone (without the company of someone who could help in case of attack), physical exertion, places it is difficult to escape in case of panic attack (restaurants, cinemas, department stores, public transport) places where they would feel ashamed if they had an attack (meetings, social gatherings …).
What are the causes of panic disorder?
1. Biological predisposition
Predominance of cardiorespiratory system. When a person feels anxiety, produced a series of physical responses of various kinds: cardiorespiratory (tachycardia, rapid breathing, shortness of breath …), musculoskeletal (tremors, tingling …) and gastrointestinal (nausea, abdominal discomfort, etc). In each person can have a predominance of one or another system and seems to be the first (cardiorespiratory) which is more related to panic.
Hyperventilation. This is a common response to anxiety, which is higher in those in which the active anxiety preferably cardiorespiratory system. The symptoms of hyperventilation are: breath, dizziness, palpitations, chest pain, and so on. Some people hiperventilan not only in situations of anxiety, but so chronic, because they do not breathe properly (breathing and frequent predominance of oral breathing) or physical health problems such as nasal disorders or hyperthyroidism.
Panic attacks often occur during a first phase of prolonged stress. In these situations, people are having a cardiac predominance breathing and ineffective, they tend to hiperventilar, your muscles are tense, your heart speeds up to compensate for the bad breath, until it reaches a time when the symptoms of hyperventilation increase. Come into play psychological factors and personality to stop causing a panic attack.