Mental health-related issues have shown a great toll after the pandemic. Many people developed fears, and some went into clinical depression because of their worsening social, personal, and health conditions. This was much more common in the elderly, who are more prone to such conditions.
Apart from the elderly, people with dementia found it particularly hard to cope with the increased anxiety; therefore, care centers like dementia care whittier had to do extra work to keep their condition stable so that the anxiety may not cause them to develop a panic disorder or have any panic attack.
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What is panic disorder?
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder. In this disorder, multiple unexpected panic attacks are experienced. The main feature of panic disorder is that the attacks may trigger at any time without any warning and are not because of another mental health or physical condition. There is also no specific trigger for them.
However, not everyone who experiences a panic attack develops panic disorder.
How common are panic attacks?
Panic attacks are very common. Annually, up to 11% of people in the United States experience a panic attack. It is estimated that around 2% -3% of the population in the U.S. have panic disorder. People assigned female at birth (AFAB) have double the chance of having panic disorder than people assigned male at birth (AMAB).
SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES
A panic attack may occur spontaneously. Symptoms usually are the most intense 10 minutes after it starts and then disappear immediately after it
The attacks may get intense depending on a person’s health state.
What are the four important symptoms of a panic attack?
Physical symptoms of a panic attack include:
- Chest pain.
- Racing heart.
- Difficulty breathing, such as hyperventilation.
- Trembling or shaking.
- Tingling or numbness in your fingers or toes.
You may feel:
- Intense terror.
- A choking or smothering sensation.
- Fear of losing control.
- Like you’re going to die.
- Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (feeling detached from yourself).
Panic attacks are very uncomfortable and can be very scary. If you previously experienced a panic attack, it is important for you to visit a doctor for consultation. They can give you an authentic diagnosis and ensure there’s no underlying physical cause.
How long does a panic attack last?
Panic attacks can vary from 5 to 20 minutes. However, in adverse cases, some people have reported attacks lasting up to an hour.
What causes panic attacks?
Experts are not sure exactly why some people experience panic attacks or develop panic disorder. However, what they know is that your brain and nervous system play a major role in determining how you process and handle fear and anxiety. Researchers think that dysfunction of your amygdala, which is a part of the brain that is concerned with fear and other emotions, may be the reason behind these conditions. Some also believe that hormonal imbalances in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), cortisol, and serotonin may play a major role in causing panic attacks.
Your chances of having panic disorder increase if you have the following:
A family history
Anxiety disorders, including panic disorders, are often inherited through generations. You have a 40% increased risk of developing the panic disorder if one of your first-degree relatives (biological siblings, children, or parents) has the condition.
Mental health conditions
People suffering from anxiety disorders, depression, or other mental health conditions are more vulnerable to panic attacks.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)
ACEs are negative experiences or traumatic experiences that happen between the ages of 1 and 17. These usually have a lasting impact on one’s mind. ACEs can contribute to the development of panic attacks and panic disorders.
What triggers panic attacks?
There is no specific thing known that acts as a trigger for panic attacks, but people who have a phobia can experience phobia-related triggers that lead to a panic attack. For example, someone with hydrophobia, the fear of water, may experience a panic attack if they have to go near a lake, dam, river, or any other place with water in abundance. In some cases, the fear of having a panic attack is often enough to trigger one.
It’s important to note that one of the criteria for panic disorder is that panic attacks don’t have a known trigger.