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mind over matter with Dr; Understanding panic attacks.

Byline: with Dr Ellie Milby

HAVE you ever been going about your everyday life and suddenly been struck by overwhelming fear? If so, you may have experienced a panic attack. Panic is a normal response to particularly stressful or dangerous situations. However, for some people panic attacks can become a debilitating problem.

At least one in 10 people will experience occasional panic attacks and around 2% of people in the UK experience regular panic attacks which is sometimes known as panic disorder.

When they occur, panic attacks are extremely distressing. Symptoms can include intense fear and anxiety and a sensation of unreality. Physical symptoms such as uncontrollable shaking, sweating, palpitations, rapid breathing, feeling sick and dizzy are also common.

When we experience symptoms like this suddenly worrying thoughts like "I'm having a heart attack" "I'm going to collapse" "I must be going crazy!" can stream through our minds. In this way, panic can become a vicious cycle. Physical symptoms lead to worrying thoughts which lead to increased fear which triggers more physical symptoms.

It's thought that panic attacks are a consequence of the body's natural "fight or flight" fear response. Sometimes there may be an obvious trigger, for example, if a person has an extreme fear of crowded places and is then confronted with this situation then this may trigger a panic attack.

Other times, there is no obvious trigger which can be very confusing. Researchers are still unsure exactly why this happens although having a genetic predisposition, an overly sensitive fear response, an imbalance in certain brain chemicals and exposure to traumatic events have all been suggested as causes.

It's unlikely panic attacks will cause any lasting physical damage. However they can have a very serious impact on a person's quality of life.

Thankfully they can be successfully treated with medication or psychological therapy so if you think you might be suffering from panic attacks do talk to your GP about possible courses of action.

For more information and advice visit nopanic. or ring 0844 967 4848.

Dr Milby is a counsel-|

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 30, 2015
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