In order to limit the exposure and transmission of Covid-19, PTI will be exclusively doing tele-psychiatry (virtual) visits. You will still have your appointment, you will just have to do it with our Virtual Psych Network (VPN™). Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

What is a Panic Attack?

The Scream by Edvard Munch, 1893

Panic attacks are short-lived, but very extreme experiences of anxiety.

Have you ever experienced a sudden onset of anxiety that nearly floored you?  Did it seem to come out of nowhere?  You may have experienced symptoms such as your heart rate increasing rapidly and pounding within your chest.  Your hands may have started shaking.  In your head, irrational thoughts of “losing it” or dying may have taken over.  Chances are, if this has happened to you, you may have experienced an panic attack.

Other Panic Attack Symptoms

  • Hot flashes or cold chills
  • Nerve related sensations such as tingling or pinpricks
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea

Since many of the symptoms mimic those of a heart attack, people who experience panic attacks can mistakenly go to the ER.  If this a recurring theme in your life, then it may be worth your while to consult with a mental health professional.

Panic attacks seem to come and go on their own and do not necessarily have a trigger event or thought.  Different than “generalized anxiety disorder,” which is more prolonged anxiety that remains constant as someone’s “normal,” panic attacks are like anxiety-driven thunderstorms that may last up to an hour.

Statistics And Causes Of Panic Attacks

Although there is no conclusive scientific evidence of what causes panic attacks, factors such as genetics, abnormal brain function, abuse of drugs or alcohol, and stress related to major life events.  Panic attacks affect over 2 million adults in the US, however, nearly twice as many women experience it compared to men.

In the past few years, more attention has been given to mental illnesses anxiety, which comes in several forms and is categorized by its symptoms.  Although it’s still part of the stigma surrounding mental health, today there is less of a value judgment on the person who experiences anxiety as someone who “doesn’t have it all together” or is lacking in confidence.

Panic attacks, similar to other forms of anxiety can be treated once it is properly diagnosed.  That’s why a proper mental health screening is advantageous over trying to self-diagnose or just “playing through it.”  If you want more information about  panic attacks or other anxiety disorders, undergoing a professional assessment, or discussing treatment options, give us a call today.  The PTI, with offices located in Covington and Baton Rouge, has a treatment team of mental health professionals who are able to perform most, if not all, of the basic services you will need from a provider.  That’s just one of the ways we put our patients in the center of our focus and we enhance your experience as a customer who only has to go to one office for your mental health needs.

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