We all have moments of anxiety- life is full of stress and worry, but for most of us, it is manageable and under our control. But could you imagine how it would feel to have the most extreme feeling of uncontrollable fear? Imagine barreling down a rollercoaster, not in control of how to stop it, or how fast it goes, you just have to sit it out. Your heart is racing, you’re scared and overwhelmed. This, is what a panic attack can feel like.
It can be difficult to try to explain the real intensity of a panic attack. Dizziness, sweating, trembling, and a fast heart rate are just a few of the common symptoms. Though panic attacks can occur in other mental health diagnoses like anxiety or depression, panic disorder specifically must be a standalone disorder because it involves panic attacks that are unpredictable.
Treatment, as most disorders, can involve a combination of therapy and medication. Psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy in particular, can be very effective in handling panic attacks. Not getting treatment in time could potentially lead to avoidance behaviors, which can seriously affect daily functioning.
The duration of a panic attack varies person to person, being anywhere between 5 minutes to over an hour. If you know someone who suffers from panic attacks, ask them how you can help if the situation arises. Some people need space, others need comfort or touch. Either way, the worst thing you can do to a person having a panic attack is to scold them or tell them to ‘get over it’. These people deserve comfort and support in their time of need. The best thing you can do is to be there for them, and to listen.
Thank you for reading.