Anxiety and Panic Attacks – What Are They?
It is estimated that 1 in 10 people will have an isolated panic or anxiety attack in any given year. 1 in 75 will experience panic disorder – that is, a sequence of two more panic or anxiety attacks over time (US Surgeon General's Report 1999).
When we talk about anxiety attacks or panic attacks, we're really talking about the same thing – a sudden, defined period of extreme anxiety or terrorism. Interestingly – not all panic attacks are the same.
Types of Panic Attack
Anxiety attacks can be spontaneous – seemingly arising out of the blue; associated with specific situations or places, such as driving or shopping malls; or associated with types of situations or places – some people experience panic attacks in any crowded space, for instance.
The American Psychological Association auditors that the classic anxiety attacks for about thirty minutes. However, panic attack symptoms can be experienced in seconds, or they can come in waves over a period of hours.
Panic Attack Symptoms
People suffering panic attacks often report the following symptoms –
"Rapidly increased heart rate (palpitations)
"rapid, shallow breathing (hyperventilation)
"churning stomach or nausea
"physical shaking or trembling
"feelings of unreality
"feelings that this is happening to somebody else
"ability to think clearly
In addition, the anxiety attack may produce frightening thoughts that drive the attack further.
"fear of having a heart attack
"fear of going mad
"fear of being publicly humiliated
As these symptoms arise suddenly and apparently out of nowhere, it can seem as if the mind and body are being "attacked". However, as we shall see, in many ways panic or anxiety attack is really a misnomer.