Panic attacks are attacks of a sharp deterioration in well—being. At the moment of the attack, it may seem to a person that something irreparable will happen to him right now – a heart attack, stroke, loss of consciousness or even death. All this is caused by the crisis course of autonomic dysfunction. And it is based on a functional disease of the autonomic nervous system.»
How panic attacks manifest themselves?
Complaints at the time of the attack may differ in different patients, different organ systems may be involved. But often it is a combination of heart palpitations, feelings of lack of air, dizziness, instability, sweating and high anxiety. Usually the attack lasts for several minutes, after it ends, there may be an urge to go to the toilet, relax the intestines or bladder. And also, for a long time afterwards, the decline of strength worries. The lack of energy can also last the whole next day, or even several days.
Although the panic attack manifests itself vividly, and the feelings of impending catastrophe seem more than real, there is no reason for fear. And this is good news — there is no threat to life, nothing bad will ever happen to a person in an attack. All this is only at the level of sensations, without a real threat.⠀
How to diagnose panic attacks?
It often seems that the first panic attack occurs literally out of the blue — it divides life into before and after. Before, he was an active person, coped with high loads, was energetic and full of plans for life. But after that, it’s a completely different person, he feels completely sick, broken, seizures can bother him daily and even several times a day, do not let him sleep at night. And between attacks, he also does not feel healthy, he worries about the heart, then breathing, and always an increased anxious mood background.⠀
But with targeted questioning, the doctor can find out that the first signs of a nervous system malfunction began to appear in this patient a few months before the development of a panic attack itself. Often such signs can be:
sleep disorders in one form or another (it is difficult to fall asleep, sleep is superficial or waking up without a sense of rest),
episodic rare heart palpitations,
feeling of a lump in the throat.⠀
A person with panic attacks can go a very long way to the moment when finally he will finally be diagnosed correctly and the essence of the disease will be explained.
The difficulty in making a diagnosis is that the manifestations can affect absolutely all organ systems, since the autonomic nervous system controls the work of the heart, blood vessels, lungs, stomach, intestines, bladder, sweat glands, etc. Therefore, the manifestations of the disease are diverse. And a person is sent for examinations literally from head to toe in order to exclude a formidable pathology in all these organs.⠀
Fortunately, no deviations are most often found, and if there is something, it is very minor things that cannot cause such debilitating seizures and a sharp deterioration in well-being.⠀
What can cause an attack
There can be many reasons, these are stresses of various nature, all of them lead to disruption of the autonomic nervous system. Here are some examples. ⠀
Stress from the loss, death of a loved one, relative or friend. On the scale of psychoemotional stress, loss is the most severe kind.⠀
Long-term hard work, without days off and vacations, often with a lack of night sleep. At risk are business leaders, those who often go on business trips, work the night shift.
Bad habits and addictions. Young people are at risk. Moreover, even the first acquaintance with a «light» substance can cause a breakdown of the nervous system.⠀
It is possible to help patients with panic attacks, this is a completely reversible condition. A neurologist will help you return to a full life using a combination of medicinal and physiotherapeutic treatment methods.
There are several techniques that will help reduce the time of the attack, reduce the severity of feelings of anxiety and somatic manifestations.⠀
Step 1. The very first tip is to remind yourself that the attack does not pose a threat to you! Nothing fatal and irreversible will ever happen. Calm yourself down, tell yourself that this is only fear and the attack will soon pass. This is very important, since you scroll through thoughts like — «a heart attack / stroke is about to happen, I’m going to die now», only intensifies all the sensations.⠀
Step 2. Control your breathing. At the moment of the attack, the physiological cycle of inhalation and exhalation is lost, breathing becomes shallow, exhalation is short. Start breathing according to the count: inhale for five counts and exhale for five counts. As you exhale, count twice as slowly. Such breathing will significantly reduce the level of anxiety.⠀
You can also use breathing in a bag. The mechanism will be somewhat different. When breathing into the bag, a hypoxia condition is created, then the respiratory center of the brain is activated, and then the parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system responsible for muscle relaxation. All this will reduce anxiety and overall tension. You can breathe both in a cellophane and in a paper bag.⠀
Step 3. You can use aromatherapy techniques. The smells of lavender and geranium affect the parasympathetic department. To calm down, it is enough to inhale the fragrance for 10-15 minutes directly from the bottle of essential oil.⠀
A doctor will be able to choose a drug therapy for relieving an attack.