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Anxiety and panic attacks part two

Anxiety & Panic
Anxiety & Panic

In part one anxiety and panic were described by one who has suffered from them, the overwhelming sense that something is wrong, and uneasiness that is not caused by anything specific.

A panic attack is often sudden with the onset of intense feelings of apprehension, fear and even terror, often with feelings of impending tragedy or doom. Panic attacks can occur in several of the Anxiety Disorders, such as Agoraphobia (a fear or avoidance of a certain place or situation from which escape may be difficult and embarrassing). Other anxiety disorders include Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Acute Stress Disorder.

The DSM – IV, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, sets the following criteria for a panic attack, four or more of the following must be present for the diagnosis with a sudden onset and reaching a peak within ten minutes:

  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering feeling
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pounding heart, accelerated heart rate, and/or palpitations
  • Choking feeling
  • Nausea and/or abdominal distress
  • Feelings of being unsteady, lightheaded, dizzy, or faint
  • Feelings of unreality (derealization) or being detached from oneself (depersonalization)
  • A feeling of loss of control or “going crazy”
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Fear of dying

It is extremely important if you are having any of the above symptoms that you are checked out for any medical condition as it may be triggering these symptoms. Either go to see your doctor or go to a local ER Numbness or tingling sensations (paresthesias) to make sure you are not having a heart attack or stroke, or another medical condition. Once you are cleared medically it is important to find a good therapist who knows how to treat Anxiety Disorders and Panic Attacks. It may require a course of medication in the beginning, but should also include relaxation training, thought-stopping techniques, and other behavioral and cognitive therapies. Sometimes journaling or talking to a trusted professional can help decrease the power these attacks have.

Your yellow pages can help you find a professional and local mental health professionals can provide resources for your particular problem. In Knoxville and surrounding areas you can call Peninsula Mental Health Centers, Cherokee Mental Health Centers, Child and Family Services, Helen Ross-McNabb Center, or local hospitals for a referral and assistance you need.


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