A panic attack has different faces. Most often, a classic panic attack is associated with shortness of breath, the inability to take a deep breath, as well as stabbing pains in the heart area, which, however, are very characteristic because they are at a certain point. Unlike true heart pain, which is pressing, tight, and felt in the center of the chest rather than the heart area, a panic attack usually has pain that is focused on a specific point in the heart area and is felt on -like a dagger. In some people, this may be accompanied by a strong heartbeat, an increase in blood pressure may occur.
A panic attack can be expressed in an inability to control your actions, in a feeling of weakness in the legs. In more acute panic attacks, a person may even fall into a temporary state of shock, during which they may lose hearing or vision.
You mentioned that a panic attack is a temporary condition. How long can she last?
The duration of a panic attack can be from a few minutes to half an hour. When it goes on for too long, it starts to worry people and many of them seek medical help.
What are the causes of panic attacks? Are there specific situations that unlock them?
It is very common to talk about the possible causes of panic attacks, such as those related to specific fears of people – the loss of something material (work, home) or the loss of a loved one. But this is not so.
True panic attacks are more related to internal blockages related to certain emotions. These emotions can be, for example, uncertainty about the future, worries related to the present or memories of the past.
There is also a belief that a person can have a panic attack when they feel a sense of shame – from being weak, different, from not being able to cope. Very often, people, in an effort to please others, set unrealistic goals, which can also be the cause of a panic attack.
A panic attack can also be expressed in fear of something specific, but this type of panic attack is characteristic of people who have phobias. When you face the cause of this phobia, you may have a panic attack – for example, on the plane.
Another possible reason is the suppression of feelings, conformist behavior – you agree with what you have to accept as a situation, as a behavior, although internally you do not agree – the unexpressed disagreement creates internal tension, causes thought whirlwinds.
Therefore, it is very difficult to determine the specific causes of a panic attack. They can be very different. In any case, however, what is most characteristic of all panic attacks is the feeling of fear at the moment you experience it. Panic is an emanation of fear, its strongest form.
Are women or men more likely to suffer from panic attacks?
It is very wrong to think that panic attacks are generally characteristic of women. I would say that in terms of percentage they are equal. Women are the ones who more often seek help and support in this condition, while men, in their worry that others will find out that they are experiencing a panic attack, which at a subconscious level for them means to feel fear, they prefer to keep these very strong emotions hidden inside.
In the last two years of the pandemic, has there been an increase in the frequency of panic attacks?
Yes, that is definitely the case. Whenever there is an increase in general anxiety levels, it leads to an increase in the frequency of panic attacks. The most characteristic of panic attacks is that they appear suddenly, and it is not necessary that a person has fallen into a specific dramatic situation concerning him personally. Very often, panic attacks occur even in people who seemingly have no problems, people who feel secure in a purely material sense and yet experience panic attacks.
If a person has one panic attack, does that mean they will automatically have more panic attacks in the future?
No, sometimes a panic attack can be a single one or not occur again for a very long time. It depends on the specific reasons in the given person that made him fall into a panic attack. It is important to note that a panic attack is rarely, if ever, related to something specific that is happening to you right now. It is mostly related to something we carry inside ourselves – some unconscious fear, insecurity, guilt.
Of course, in this case it is extremely important to seek help. It all depends on the psycho-emotional balance of the person.
How can a panic attack sufferer seek help or try to help themselves?
When it comes to dealing with the panic attack itself, some people react instinctively and change their breathing. Slow and deep breathing is an action that people often do without thinking and thus help themselves to get out of the panic attack faster.