Identifying Signs of a Panic Attack

Anxiety disorders rank as the most prevalent mental health conditions in the United States, impacting over 40 million adults, or 18.1% of the population. Despite their high treatability, the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that merely 36.9% of individuals grappling with these disorders opt for treatment.

Various disorders are linked to anxiety, and their symptoms often share similarities, leading to confusion about the specific type of anxiety a person may be experiencing, such as generalized anxiety and panic attacks. Below, we provide a concise overview of what panic attacks entail and explore the treatment options available for anxiety across different intensities.

What constitutes a panic attack? Characterized by brief episodes of intense fear, these occurrences are typically accompanied by heightened heart rate, chest pain, or shortness of breath. Lasting under thirty minutes, panic attacks can manifest suddenly and without apparent cause, occasionally resembling symptoms of a heart attack due to the overwhelming fear and intense physical sensations. Up to 11% of Americans undergo a panic attack annually.

Individuals encountering recurring panic attacks may be diagnosed with panic disorder (PD), a specific anxiety disorder affecting around 4.7% of U.S. adults at some point in their lives. PD is more prevalent in women, with a double likelihood compared to men, and often emerges in young adulthood, with approximately half of all cases developing before the age of 24.

It’s essential to differentiate between an “anxiety attack” and a panic attack, even though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. “Anxiety attack” is not a formal DSM-5 term or diagnosis, unlike panic attacks. Distinctions lie in the duration, severity of symptoms, and triggering factors.

Effective treatment for disorders, including anxiety and its associated symptoms, necessitates a thorough examination and symptom analysis by a medical professional for accurate diagnosis. Once the specific disorder, condition, or underlying cause of anxiety is identified, appropriate intervention becomes possible.

What does treatment involve? It varies based on the diagnosis and symptom severity. Common options encompass medication, such as antidepressants or beta-blockers, therapy, lifestyle adjustments, or a combination of these approaches. Diverse therapeutic modalities, including cognitive therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or innovative methods like ketamine infusion therapy, can effectively manage symptoms and alleviate sensations of fear and excessive worry.

Numerous avenues exist to alleviate anxiety and enhance the quality of life for those grappling with it. For more information on treatment options and a comprehensive understanding of the distinctions between anxiety and panic attacks, please check out the following resource by MD Infusions.