By We Level Up FL Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: February 10, 2023
What are Panic Attacks?
Panic attacks are the momentary surge of intense fear and anxiety that people feel sometime after they are exposed to a life-threatening event. This article will discuss the symptoms and causes of panic attacks as well as prevention tactics for individuals in social situations. Panic attack treatments can help most people control or even stop attacks.
Panic attacks are often the sudden onset of intense anxiety, fear, or discomfort that can last several minutes to hours. Thus, rapid heartbeats and increased production of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline defines panic attack. With panic attacks, it’s not uncommon for people to be unable to recall what they were doing before the attack occurred. Furthermore, the episode may also include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or stomach distress.
People with epilepsy, other seizure disorders, and other neurological conditions can also have panic attacks. In some instances, panic attacks may be the result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Anyone can have a panic attack and there isn’t a typical way of having one.
You can have one while you’re sleeping or in a car, at work, or at home. Likewise, it’s important to know that the condition is not life-threatening. For one thing, there are many effective treatments available to get it under control. If you suspect that someone else may be experiencing panic attacks, the first step is to get them to seek medical help as soon as possible.
Causes of Panic Attack
Factors that may contribute to panic attacks:
- Genetics or family history
- Major life stress. Such as the death or serious illness of a loved one
- Temperament that is prone to negative emotions. For example sexual assault or a serious accident.
- Certain changes in the way parts of your brain function.
- Excessive use of nicotine or caffeine.
- Drinking alcohol and panic attacks has a very close relationship.
- Drug use.
- Taking certain medicines. Such as those used to treat asthma and heart problems.
- History of childhood physical or sexual abuse.
- Effective Medication for Panic Attacks & Panic Disorder
- Panic Attack vs Anxiety Attack. Difference Between an Anxiety Attack and Panic Attack
- Grounding Techniques for Panic Attacks
- Anxiety Meditation: Does it Really Help?
- Inpatient Mental Health Treatment
- Mental Health Treatment
- Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder
- Mood and Personality Disorder Treatment
- Psychiatric Disorders Treatment
- BPD Treatment
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Panic Attack (Panic Disorder) Facts
People with panic disorder have frequent and unexpected panic attacks. These attacks are characterized by a sudden wave of fear or discomfort or a sense of losing control even when there is no clear danger or trigger. Not everyone who experiences a panic attack will develop panic disorder.
Panic attacks often include physical symptoms that might feel like a heart attack, such as trembling, tingling, or rapid heart rate. Panic attacks can occur at any time. Many people with panic disorder worry about the possibility of having another attack and may significantly change their life to avoid having another attack. Panic attacks can occur as frequently as several times a day or as rarely as a few times a year.
What Causes Panic Disorder?
Panic disorder sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some family members have it while others don’t. Researchers have found that several parts of the brain and certain biological processes may play a crucial role in fear and anxiety. Some researchers think panic attacks are like “false alarms” where our body’s typical survival instincts are active either too often, too strongly, or some combination of the two.
For example, someone with panic disorder might feel their heart pounding and assume they’re having a heart attack. This may lead to a vicious cycle, causing a person to experience panic attacks seemingly out of the blue, the central feature of panic disorder. Researchers are studying how the brain and body interact in people with panic disorder to create more specialized treatments. In addition, researchers are looking at the ways stress and environmental factors play a role in the disorder.
What is the Epidemiology of Panic Disorder?
Panic disorder has a relatively high lifetime prevalence, ranking behind only social anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Notably, patients suffering from panic disorder have much higher lifetime rates of cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and other medical problems compared to the general population. European Americans are more likely to suffer from the panic disorder than African Americans, Asian Americans, or Latinos. Females are more affected than men. Panic disorder peaks in adolescence and early adulthood, with low prevalence in children below the age of 14.
Panic Disorder Statistics
Panic Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. These episodes occur “out of the blue,” not in conjunction with a known fear or stressor.
An estimated 2.7% of U.S. adults had panic disorder in the past year.
Source: National Institute on Mental Health
Past year prevalence of panic disorder among adults was higher for females (3.8%) than for males (1.6%).
Source: National Institute on Mental Health
An estimated 4.7% of U.S. adults experience panic disorder at some time in their lives
Source: National Institute of Mental Health
Panic Attacks Symptoms
While there are different theories as to why people have panic attacks. Also, there’s not currently enough conclusive evidence to support any one explanation. There are no tests for panic attacks so we don’t know the cause of a panic attack. Moreover, there’s also some debate about whether clinical research should focus on what causes panic attacks or on ways to treat them.
- Symptoms of a panic attack include extreme anxiety and physical sensations of fear. For example, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, trembling, and muscle tension.
- Triggers for panic attacks can include over breathing, long periods of stress, and activities that lead to intense physical reactions. For example, exercise, and excessive coffee drinking. Also, physical changes occur after an illness or a sudden change of environment.
- In other cases, symptoms that are common to panic attacks may also occur in some physical conditions. Some medications and drugs – such as tranquilizers, alcohol, and caffeine – may also induce panic-like symptoms.
You may be suffering from Panic Disorder if you:
- Experience frequent, unexpected panic attacks that do not involve a specific situation
- Worry a lot about having another panic attack
- Are behaving differently because of the panic attacks, such as avoiding places where you’ve previously panicked
Panic attacks may lead to the following panic disorder symptoms:
- Anticipatory anxiety – This anxiety stems from a fear of having future panic attacks. Therefore, this “fear of fear” is present most of the time, and can be extremely disabling.
- Phobic avoidance – This avoidance may be based on the belief that the situation you’re avoiding caused a previous panic attack. Taken to its extreme, phobic avoidance becomes agoraphobia. Agoraphobia develops as a complication of panic attacks and panic disorder.
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What are Nocturnal Panic Attacks?
Nighttime (nocturnal) panic attacks can happen with no obvious trigger and awaken you from sleep. The person may struggle to breathe, have a racing heart, and sweat profusely. Individuals who have panic attacks, or panic disorders, are more likely to have nocturnal panic attacks. Nocturnal panic attacks normally last only a few minutes. However, it may take a while to calm down and go back to sleep after the person has one. Individuals who have nocturnal panic attacks also tend to have panic attacks during the day.
What Causes Nocturnal Panic Attacks?
Experts don’t know why some individuals experience panic attacks. Something affects how the brain and nervous system perceive and process anxiety and fear. Most panic attacks happen during the day, usually when a non-threatening situation triggers a panic response. Similarly, nocturnal or nighttime panic attacks don’t have a basis in the situation. It’s not known what causes panic attacks. In some cases, an underlying condition, such as a sleep disorder or thyroid problem, can cause panic-like signs and symptoms.
Panic Attacks at Night Treatment Options
Nocturnal panic attacks treatment may start with your healthcare provider asking for tests to rule out health problems like thyroid disease and heart disease that cause symptoms similar to panic attacks. If they don’t find a physical cause, your healthcare provider may diagnose nocturnal panic attacks based on symptoms and risk factors. Treatment for panic attacks at night may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which is a panic attack treatment therapy, medications, or both. Treatment of panic attacks can help prevent panic attacks and reduce their intensity when they happen.
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10 Tips to Manage Panic Attack along with Panic Attack Treatment at Home
Here are ten simple and effective ways to deal with panic attack treatment without medications.
- Use deep breathing
- Recognize that you’re having a panic attack
- Close your eyes
- Practice mindfulness
- Find a focus object
- Use muscle relaxation techniques
- Picture your happy place
- Engage in light exercise
- Keep lavender on hand
- Repeat a mantra internally
Panic Attack Natural Treatment
Please remember that it’s never a bad idea to consult a professional for severe panic attack treatment. There are proven techniques that can help reduce the frequency and severity of your panic attacks, and even some of the “panic attack treatment at home” listed above work better when you can be observed by someone that can help if your anxiety becomes too overwhelming.
Likewise, you should always visit your doctor before starting any panic attack treatment at home. Physical causes of panic attacks are rare, but unless you visit a doctor, you’ll always have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that your panic attacks represent something else – some type of health problem. Seeing a doctor relieves some of this anxiety. But be warned, many people still convince themselves that the doctor is missing something, so don’t expect seeing a doctor to take away all of your anxieties.
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Anxiety and Panic Attacks Treatment
The most effective form of professional treatment for panic attacks, panic disorder, and agoraphobia is therapy. To simplify, treatments for panic attacks can help most people control or even stop attacks. Your treatment will depend on your symptoms. . But symptoms can come back, especially if you stop treatments for panic attacks too soon. Treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder includes psychotherapy. Medicines may also help.
- Psychotherapy. A type of psychotherapy (panic attack treatment therapy) called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is useful. CBT focuses on thinking patterns and behaviors. For example, if you experience a panic attack while driving, what is the worst thing that would really happen? You might have to pull over to the side of the road, so you do not crash your car or have a heart attack. Once you learn that nothing truly disastrous is going to happen, the experience of panic becomes less terrifying.
- Medication is a temporary solution to control some of the symptoms of panic disorder. However, it doesn’t treat or resolve the problem. It can be useful in severe cases. But it should not be the only treatment for panic attacks.
Panic attack treatment medication is most effective when combined with other treatments. Such as therapy and lifestyle changes, that address the underlying causes of panic disorder.
Examples of Medications used:
Antidepressants. It may take several weeks before it takes effect. Therefore, it has to be taken continuously, and not just during a panic attack.
Benzodiazepines. Anti-anxiety drugs that act within 30 minutes to an hour. However, benzodiazepines are highly addictive and have serious withdrawal symptoms. So they should be used with caution.
A co-occurring panic attack disorder can occur when a secondary disorder or other mental illnesses contribute and become part of the entirety of a mental illness requiring treatment. For this more complex Panic attack treatment an experienced team that can treat the multiple diagnoses can be invaluable in achieving recovery success.
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Finding Panic Attack Treatments at We Level Up Florida Mental Health Center
If you or your loved one is suffering from constant and unexpected Panic Attacks, professional intensive Panic Attack Treatments can be life-changing. To learn more about advanced Panic Attack Treatment options and related integrated mental health therapy programs, contact us today at We Level Up FL Mental Health Center, we provide the utmost care with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We provide an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life.
Search We Level Up FL “Panic Attack Treatments” Topics & Resources
 National Center for Biotechnology Information – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10574314/
 Panic Disorder – National Institute of Mental Health NIMH
 Grounding Techniques – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration SAMHSA
 VA Healthcare Panic Attacks – https://www.mirecc.va.gov/cih-visn2/documents/patient_education_handouts/panic_attacks_version_3.pdf
 Chand SP, Marwaha R. Anxiety. [Updated 2022 May 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470361/
 Kim YK. Panic Disorder: Current Research and Management Approaches. Psychiatry Investig. 2019 Jan;16(1):1-3. DOI: 10.30773/pi.2019.01.08. Epub 2019 Jan 25. PMID: 30696237; PMCID: PMC6354045.
 Munir S, Takov V. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. [Updated 2022 Jan 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441870/
 Bandelow B, Michaelis S, Wedekind D. Treatment of anxiety disorders. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2017 Jun;19(2):93-107. DOI: 10.31887/DCNS.2017.19.2/bbandelow. PMID: 28867934; PMCID: Panic Attack During Dental Treatment.
 Olabi B, Hall J. Borderline personality disorder: current drug treatments and prospects. Ther Adv Chronic Dis. 2010 Mar;1(2):59-66. DOI: 10.1177/2040622310368455. PMID: 23251729; GERD and Anxiety/Panic Attacks Treatment: PMC3513859.
 About Mental Health – CDC/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention