Panic Attacks Philadelphia

Panic Attacks Philadelphia: Panic attacks can be devastating for the people suffering  from them and mystifying for their friends and loved ones. Although they are  different for everyone, the experience is often described as a period of intense  fear or discomfort that peaks in ten minutes but may last as long as twenty to  thirty minutes. Along with many physical symptoms, people in the throes of an  attack often feel they will collapse or die. Panic attacks are not usually  physically harmful, but unfortunately, most who have experienced one panic  attack will likely experience more. A person with a pattern of repeated attacks  is generally said to be suffering from panic disorder.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that  approximately 2.4 million American adults ages 18 to 54 have panic disorder.  Panic strikes more women than men.

A serious health problem in our country, continued research  has revealed the specific brain areas and circuits that play a role in anxiety  and fear, but the exact cause or causes of panic disorder are still unknown.  Scientists know that the amygdala – a small structure deep inside the brain that  houses the body’s fear response may be associated, but have also pointed to  heredity, biological factors, stressful events, and certain thinking patterns as  possible factors that play a role in panic disorder.

Often, symptoms of panic seem to mimic the symptoms of a  heart attack or stroke, which can make panic initially difficult to diagnose.  During a panic attack, several physical and emotional signs happen  simultaneously. These signs may vary from one attack to the next, but some  common symptoms are:

  • Chest pains
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Racing or pounding heartbeat
  • Tingling or numbness in hands
  • Shortness of breath or a smothering feeling
  • Sweating
  • Chills or Flushes
  • Feelings of dread or terror
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of dying

Because they  can occur at any time, many patients begin to experience anxiety between  attacks. They fear situations and places where attacks have already happened,  and sometimes begin to experience additional anxieties about leaving their  homes, which complicates the problem, often adding agoraphobia to the diagnosis  of panic disorder.

Often panic and anxiety co-exist but they differ in that a  panic attack is characterized as a short, terrifying overwhelming feeling of  fear that can attack at any time — even when sleeping — causing the sufferer to  wake in fear. Anxiety is more gradual, less intense and lasts for a longer  period of time.

Panic attacks often occur within predictable patterns: They  can be situational. An example may be a person who fears heights having an  attack when visiting the 75th floor of a building. They may  reoccur in circumstances where they have experienced prior attacks. And  finally, they can appear random — a person may be sleeping and wake in terror.

Although analyzing the environment and situations surrounding  an attack may help to discern the cause of the problem and offer insight to  prevention, panic attacks are complex.

If you suffer from panic attacks, be proactive. Consult a professional – we at Sex Therapy in Philadelphia / Center for Growth are just a phone call away — a visit to your doctor can rule out medical causes and an  appointment with a knowledgeable therapist can begin your road to understanding  and coping with your symptoms.