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Panic attack anxiety is an anxiety disorder that is a very sudden, distinct period of intense nervousness, increasing physiological arousal. Stomach upset, fear and discomfort are usually the physical symptoms of panic attacks. Panic attacks are usually very abrupt and have no obvious triggers.  Sometimes there are obvious triggers such as being stuck in an elevator or preparing to give a big speech in front a lot of people in a couple of minutes – but in most cases, panic attack anxiety come out of nowhere.

Panic attacks are known to usually peak within a couple of minutes and they usually do not last for more than 30 minutes (in rare cases, it can last for over an hour!) – but during this short time, the terror the sufferer feels is very severe that he or she might feel as if they want to die or loose total control.

The physical symptoms of panic attack anxiety include:

    Hyperventilation
    Surges of overwhelming panic
    Hot flashes or chills
    Nausea or abdominal cramps
    Heart palpitations or chest pains
    Feeling of unreality
    Choking feeling
    Trouble breathing
    Feeling of losing control
    Trembling or shaking
    Feelings of dizziness
    Numbness or tingling sensations
    Shortness of breath
    Sweating
    Fear of dying
    Feeling of losing control or going crazy

The causes and triggers of panic attack anxiety include:

    Phobia – most people often experience panic attack episodes when they are exposed to a phobic situation or object.
    Pharmacological trigger – they are certain chemical substances (mostly stimulants) that are known to trigger panic attacks. Stimulants such as caffeine, amphetamine or alcohol are known to increase nervousness.
    Serious or Chronic ailment – There are certain illnesses such as cardiac conditions which could lead to any of the following: Wolff-Parkinson white syndrome, Long QT syndrome or CPVT, these can cause panic attacks.
    Medications – Some drugs are known to trigger panic attack anxiety, drugs such as certain antibiotics e.g. fluoroquinolone – panic attacks are usually the side effects of these drugs. According to studies, nearly all the SSRI class of antidepressants can lead to increased anxiety at the beginning of use. It is expected for inexperienced users of these drugs to suffer from panic attacks while starting or going off the medication (especially people who are prone to anxiety).

Treatments for this condition include:

a)    Medication – Doctors usually describe medications in order to treat panic attacks and such medications are particularly SSRIs (fluvoxamine, paroxine, fluoxetine, paroxetine or sertraline), these drugs are effective in reducing panic attack anxiety – but these drugs work after an initial titration period.
b)    Behavioral Therapy – This involves cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy and are both known to effectively treat anxiety disorders.

    Cognitive-Behavior Therapy – This treatment for panic attacks is used to help the patient identify and also challenge negative thought patters that are causing anxiety
    Exposure Therapy – This treatment involves facing your fears and not running away from it. The patient is repeatedly exposed to his or her feared object or situation through reality or imagination.  As the patient faces his or her fear without being harmed, the patient’s anxiety slowly diminishes.