Currambine Family Practice
At Currambine Family Practice, we understand that finding a doctor you can trust in diagnosing and treating your panic attacks can be challenging. You can be assured that you will be treated with the highest degree of professionalism, sensitivity and respect. Dr Joshua Juniper has a special interest in the management and treatment of panic attacks.
Panic attacks are brief bouts of extreme anxiety that causes the physical sensations of fear. A panic attack is like your ‘fight-or-flight’ reaction activating. This can include a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, muscle tension, and more. These attacks occur frequently and unexpectedly. The immediate reaction can last up to a half an hour, and then prolonged emotional and physical effects can last hours. Without treatment, these attacks can be disabling.
For some, these feelings may occur occasionally during periods of stress or illness. When these attacks become recurring, the person is said to have a panic disorder. An extended list of symptoms includes heightened vigilance for danger, irrational thinking, feeling of dread, feelings of losing control, dizziness, chills, trembling, heart racing, breathing difficulties, abdominal distress, dry mouth, and feelings of unreality.
When the body is presented with immediate danger, your mind reacts with the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. This causes adrenaline to be pumped through the body and trigger physical changes. A person may experience these symptoms in harmless situations such as watching TV or even sleeping. Some factors that can cause the body the inappropriate active response are: chronic (ongoing) stress, acute (traumatic) stress, intense physical exercise, excessive caffeine, illness, and a sudden change in environment. Some symptoms common to panic attacks can occur in other physical conditions such as when using medications and drugs.
It is important to seek professional advice if you are unsure about the symptoms you are experiencing, to make sure that the panic-like symptoms are not due to illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, inner ear complaints, hyperthyroidism, cardiac complaints, and post-partum hyper-thyroiditis. Some suggestions to deal with a panic attack are to avoid self-talk. Remind yourself that the symptoms are not life threatening. Focus on something outside of your body by distracting yourself. Sit and allow the symptoms to pass to gain confidence in your ability to cope. There are also medical treatment options for panic attacks caused by anxiety. This can include medications, psychotherapy, biofeedback therapy, stress management, breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, problem-solving skills, and lifestyle adjustments. You can get help from primary care physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, and online resources.