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Help for Anxiety and Panic Attacks

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Before we address panic attacks we need to understand anxiety and put this in perspective.

Anxiety in itself is not usually a problem for most people. It is a normal reaction to stress. Looming exams, giving a speech, conflict at work can all cause anxiety and it normally helps you cope better as you tend to stay focused on working through whatever it is that is stressing you. However anxiety can become excessive when it leads to an irrational fear of everyday situations. It becomes a disabling anxiety disorder.

This may lead to a sense of panic or dread. However panic attacks, a surge of overwhelming fear that comes without warning, can occur without any obvious reason. Panic attacks are far more intense than just having anxiety or feeling stressed out.

Major life transitions such as getting married, pregnancy, starting work, a family death, job loss or divorce and separation, inherited genes can all increase the chances of panic attacks. Panic attacks can happen anywhere at any time. They can occur when you are relaxing at home, even when you are asleep, sitting in your car, on a shopping mall escalator, in an elevator, anywhere. They can reach their peak within 10 minutes and can last 20 to 30 minutes. You can feel short of breath, feel crushed in, immobile and choking, feel dizzy, nauseous, hyperventilate and feel heart palpitations. You may fear that you are about to die or just go plain crazy without any control at all. Worse still, you may feel that because you just can't escape it you become terrified.

It is estimated that 1 in 75 people worldwide will experience panic attacks sometime in their lives. That is more than 1 per cent of the world's population.

Although panic attacks are not dangerous in themselves they often lead to dangerous complications such as depression, substance abuse and even suicide. Although a panic attack may occur only once it can recur - triggered if the same situation re-occurs. This can include speaking in public, or even riding that same elevator.

Fear of panic attacks can cause you to withdraw from normal life. Such fear can cause you to avoid activities that may be essential for career success (e.g., giving presentations). However, panic is treatable and the sooner you gain help you can regain control of your life again. Your medical advisor can best provide advice as to effective treatments and coping strategies. You can then work on eliminating panic attack symptoms and getting your life back to normal.

It is important to see you doctor if you suffer from symptoms of panic. This is because there may be causes defined by your medical physical condition such as:

Withdrawal from previously prescribed medication

Use of stimulants such as caffeine, cocaine or amphetamines

Hyperthyroidism Hyperglycaemia or Cardiac problems

That being said, there are many credible treatments available for panic attacks that may not need to be prescribed medically. In fact, for hypersensitive people prescribed medications may not be the answer anyway. Even medical practitioners will often recommend suggest alternative treatments. You should, however, ensure that such treatments, if obtained online for example, are endorsed by such accrediting organizations as the International Society for Mental Health Online .

This Wiki is authored by Virginia Reynolds who, in addition to her online activities, has a special interest, through personal and family experiences, in matters pertaining to: Anxiety, Panic, Migraine and Depression.

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