What is a Panic Attack?
Our psychiatrist team in Princeton, NJ frequently has clients come to them presenting with repeating episodes of intense fear that trigger severe physical symptoms. Panic attacks can be very scary. These patients often report feeling like they are losing control of their bodies, having a heart attack or even feel like they are dying. If people have had multiple panic attacks they can be in constant fear of another panic attack occurring. Although panic attacks aren’t life-threatening, they can be very scary and have significant impact on quality of life.
What are the symptoms of Panic Attack?
Panic attack can occur without warning or during a stressful situation. They can occur in random situations like driving, walking in the neighborhood or at a business meeting. Panic attacks can present in a variety of symptoms, but most people feel fatigued after the panic attack.
Common symptoms in panic attacks include:
- Sense of doom or danger
- Fear of loss of control or death
- Fast, pounding heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
- Chills or Hot flashes
- Abdominal cramping
- Chest pain
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Feeling of unreality or detachment
Why do recurrent panic attacks need to be treated?
Left untreated, panic attacks have significant impact on quality of life. People often plan and organize their life around the fear of having panic attack.
Complications that panic attacks may cause or be linked to include:
- Development of specific phobias, such as fear of driving or leaving your home
- Frequent medical care appointments due to worries
- Avoidance of social situations
- Problems at work or school
- Alcohol or other substance misuse
- Being dependent on others to leave the home
- Avoiding places or situations that cause anxiety related to the panic attack
How is panic disorder diagnosed?
We at Garden Psych take a detailed history of your mental health. We have board certified psychiatrist that are experts in the treatment of anxiety. We may review your blood work, EKG and other medical records that you have had as a result of your panic attacks being checked out at urgent cares or emergency rooms. Sometimes we have to order lab tests such as EKG or thyroid panel if they haven’t been done already to make sure there are no other reasons for the panic attack.
Questions about your mental health will include the symptoms of your panic attack, the frequency, the timings of the panic attack and how the panic attacks are impacting your life.
What the treatment for panic attacks?
Treatment of panic attacks is focused on decreasing the intensity and quantity of the panic attacks, as well as improving your quality of life. After we take a detailed medical and psychiatric history, we develop customized treatment plans for our patients.
Generally goals of treating panic attacks can be broken down in terms of short-term, intermediate term and long term goals. The short term goal of treatment is achieved by using medications such as benzodiazepines to stop the panic attacks immediately when they occur. The intermediate goal, consisting of 6 months to 1 year, is to start patients on medications that prevent the panic attack from starting such as SSRI’s. It can take up to 3 months for the SSRI’s to become effective, during which patient use short term medications to terminate the panic attacks. The long term goal of treating panic disorder is to utilize cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) to stop the panic attacks. The long term goal(1 year) is to only using cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of talk therapy, and not use any medications for the treatment of the anxiety and panic attacks.
For stopping your panic attacks today make an appointment by calling us at 609-601-4161.