Types of Panic Attacks and How to Treat Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are one of the most common anxiety disorders that affect the lives of millions of people. When these attacks happen, they are accompanied by a deep sense of dread and also physical symptoms that make it seem like the end is coming. To treat a panic attack, you have first to diagnose which type of attack it is. Seeing a physician and a psychologist can help properly diagnose different types of panic attacks and provide you with the best treatment to manage future panic attacks.
What is a Panic Attack?
While panic attacks derive from mental distress, they are not categorized as a mental illness or a mental disorder. Instead, panic attacks are classified as anxiety disorders, and they are accompanied by the following symptoms:
- A sense of impending doom
- Fear of loss of control or death
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat/chest
- Shaking or trembling
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
- Chest pain
- Hot flashes
- A feeling of detachment or unreality
- Tingling sensation/numbness
The duration of a panic attack is a few minutes, usually 10, by the end of which the person who has the attack either reverts to a normal state or continues to feel anxious. In some cases, the person who has a panic attack will have another cycle that can prevent him/her from returning to the daily routine.
Types of Panic Attacks
There are three main types of panic attacks that can occur when people are suffering from this anxiety disorder:
Spontaneous/uncued panic attacks – a type of panic attack that occurs out of the blue, meaning there are no warning signs that the attack is about to happen. In uncued panic attacks, there are no environmental or situational triggers that contribute to the attack. Spontaneous panic attacks can even occur when a person is asleep.
Cued/situationally bound panic attacks – unlike uncued panic attacks that have no triggers and warning signs, situationally bound panic attacks happen as a result of an environmental trigger. When a person who is prone to panic attacks in exposed to certain situations that make him/her feel anxious, they will get into a panic attack. As a result, certain elements and situations become a constant trigger to panic attacks. For instance, certain people experience panic attacks when they are in a large crowd, so crowds become a trigger for them.
Situationally predisposed panic attacks – a type of panic attack that occurs after exposure to a trigger. These types of panic attacks do not happen immediately after a person has been exposed to a trigger, but rather a delayed response after he/she is out of the triggering situation.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Different Types of Panic Attacks
It is important to diagnose a panic attack disorder to treat it properly, and the first step is to identify whether a person indeed has a panic disorder. There are cases where people have a panic attack once or even several times, but it does not mean that they have a panic or anxiety disorder.
To diagnose a panic attack pattern, you need to see a physician or a psychologist. Once you are diagnosed with a panic disorder, you can begin with the best treatment for your condition.
If you are diagnosed as suffering from panic attacks, you can begin a treatment program that can include medication, cognitive behavioral therapy or both.
As far a panic attack medications go, research has shown that antidepressants are highly effective in controlling panic attacks. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Tricyclic Antidepressants have been proven to reduce both the number of attacks and the severity of attacks in people who suffer from panic attacks.
Panic attacks can also be managed with the help of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). The purpose of these types of treatment is to "take the sting" out of panic attacks triggers through various technics, like breathing retaining, exposure through imagery, panic management, and more. People who suffer from different types of panic attacks can also combine the two types of therapy to find out what works best for them.
Panic attacks can be very debilitating, especially if they become routine. To treat the problem, you can find out which type of panic attack you have and find out the best course of treatment for you.