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  • What causes panic attacks and what are the symptoms?

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    Old 03-18-2007, 02:43 PM   #1
    BumpkinPumpkin
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    What causes panic attacks and what are the symptoms?

    A friend of mine says that she thinks she has panic attacks but she never knows when they come on and why. She was in a rest. and her and her husband were pretty much by themselves and then a big party of 8 people came and sat right next to them. She then told me that after awhile, she got really light headed for less than a minute and thought she was going to pass out. but all that lasted for less than a minute. Does this sound like a panic attack? She says that she never knows when they will come on. I told her that it may be her allergies bothering her, but, I don't know. She says that she gets a butterfly feeling in her stomach at times but again, she doesn't know why. What are the symptoms of panic attack and how do you control them?

     
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    Old 03-18-2007, 09:44 PM   #2
    wholegrain
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    Re: What causes panic attacks and what are the symptoms?

    A panic attack is an abrupt onset of extreme, irrational fear, which may or may not include any or all of these symptoms as well:

    shaking
    shortness of breath
    palpitations
    random pains
    sweating
    nausea
    rapid heartrate
    vertigo
    tingling in body parts
    hyperventilation
    derealization
    depersonalization

    The intense terror of a panic attack sometimes is not directed toward anything in particular, but more commonly the sufferer feels as if they are about to die, go insane, have a heart attack, vomit, or faint. A strong panic attack usually lasts a minimum of ten minutes, but typically an attack will come on strong out of nowhere, and then wax and wan for the next several hours or days.

    That's what a panic attack consists of, now as for what it actually is- a panic attack is basically an innappropriate fight-or-flight response. When you are faced with great danger, loads of adrenaline is dumped into your blood and you experience all the same symptoms of a panic attack as your body prepares to either fight or flee in order to survive. A panic attack is when this phenomena occurs in someone who is NOT in great danger.

    What causes panic attacks? Panic attacks can be a symptom of a mental or physical illness, a side effect of a medication or drug, and sometimes may be caused by nothing at all. However, the single most common cause of panic attacks is anxiety. For people who have chronic, severe panic attacks, a panic attack is usually how their body shows signs of stress. This stress can either be long term, such as an impending wedding or career change, or it can be short term, such as being in a crowded elevator or stuck in traffic.

    How do you control panic attacks? There is far more than one answer to this questions. Several different types of drugs are commonly used, such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Paxil. I'd say psychiatric drugs are probably the most common treatment of panic attacks. However, there are other methods of treatment such as cognitive behavior therapy, different kinds of psychological therapy, reiki, yoga, exercise, deep breathing techniques, herbal supplements, lifestyle changes, distracting oneself, etc. The list goes on forever.

    As for your particular case: in my opinion, it does not sound like your friend is having panic attacks. A panic attack is very serious- it is definitely something that temporarily impairs your ability to function. I highly doubt you will be able to find people who will tell you that sometimes their panic attacks last less than a minute and then they are able to resume normal activities.

    Lightheadedness and "butterflies in stomach" feelings are both symptoms of panic attacks, but again, this just does not sound severe enough to be a panic attack. 99% of panic attack sufferers are going to tell you that if you're having a panic attack, you KNOW you're having a panic attack. It is just an extremely different, terrifying state of mind from normal. It my opinion, it seems like your friend is probably just have minor anxiety in those situations.

     
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    Old 03-19-2007, 06:56 AM   #3
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    Re: What causes panic attacks and what are the symptoms?

    Thanks for your informative post. Mt friend did state that she was not able to eat once the food was brought out to her. She just sat there hoping everything was okay because she thought she was going to pass out and she didn't want to draw attention to herself so she figured that if she sat pretty still, things would be okay. She said once she got to the car, she was better, but wasn't back to her old slef as she says. she said that the noise around her started to fade as if though she was going to faint but didn't. I don't know. She is in her mid forties, I guess it could be inner ear or so many things. I say inner ear because she says that she has pressure in one ear alot and her Dr. (ENT) said her ears were fine.

    What is the difference between anxiety and panic? I thought they were basically the same thing? I thought anxiety/panic attack were one in the same. Do any certain vitamins help with this?

     
    Old 03-19-2007, 12:36 PM   #4
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    Re: What causes panic attacks and what are the symptoms?

    From what I understand, a panic ATTACK and an anxiety ATTACK are terms that are used interchangeably. However, a panic disorder and an anxiety disorder are different. Panic disorder is characterized more by isolated panic attacks with no anxiety in between. A panic attack is what I described in my first post- acute, sudden, and temporary terror. Anxiety is more long term and complicated, can include things like agoraphobia, avoidance, social anxiety, OCD, etc. A person with panic disorder can be a very laid back, functional person otherwise, but they have sporadic panic attacks. A person with an anxiety disorder is more like someone who worries all the time, has trouble in social situations, etc. That make sense?

    There is a lot of talk of different vitamins helping, but not too much solid research as far as I know. Sometimes panic attacks are a result of a small health problem like minor hypotension or hypoglycemia or bigger problems like hypothyroid, in which case taking supplements to treat those problems can help with anxiety. I've heard some different stuff like B vitamins and magnesium just help in general but can't remember a lot off the top of my head. Regardless, most people agree that making sure you are well nourished and healthy in general can make a big difference in your anxiety/panic levels.

    I don't know, your friend could be having minor panic attacks. I can't diagnose her. Has she seen a doctor? A primary care doctor will be a good place to start- they are able to diagnose panic attacks.

     
    Old 03-19-2007, 01:02 PM   #5
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    Re: What causes panic attacks and what are the symptoms?

    Yeah, I think a doctor told her years ago that she had some anxiety, but never did anything about it. I will pass this on to her. Thanks for your help!

    Last edited by msmod; 03-19-2007 at 01:06 PM.

     
    Old 03-19-2007, 10:33 PM   #6
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    Re: What causes panic attacks and what are the symptoms?

    You're welcome! I hope she feels better soon and these symptoms, whatever they are, go away.

     
    Old 04-08-2007, 11:49 AM   #7
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    Re: What causes panic attacks and what are the symptoms?

    Yes, a thyroid disorder can be responsible for making you feel panicky. No, a panic attack cannot make you faint, but some of the symptoms of a panic attack can. Sometimes people will faint because of a quickened heartrate or hyperventilation caused by a panic attack. But you should not faint if you get your panic attack under control.

    However, what you're describing doesn't sound to me like a panic attack. If you were shopping in the store in a totally normal state of mind and then all of a sudden blacked out and hit the floor, unconscious, there is not enough time in there for you to panic. That sounds like fainting for a medical reason to me.

    But I am NOT a doctor...you need to ask your doctor about mysterious fainting spells that do not happen while you are having a panic attack. That could be very dangerous.

     
    Old 04-08-2007, 04:20 PM   #8
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    Question Re: What causes panic attacks and what are the symptoms?

    thanks ,im calling my dr tomorrow cause i been having these falling down spells since sept but i recently changed drs my old dr told me i fall down fro high aneity and according to my brother sometimes the MRI dont pick up everything is this true? i was at the store with hubby for prob 1/2 hr shopping i felt fine i went into the dollar store and got the 2 things then my mind went blank i forgot what i was doing and forgot where i was at i felt myself getting scared i knew i was going to fall so i stood there for a few mins then tried to hurry and get out of the store i never made it i fell down right there i only started breathing hard for a sec then started crying then it passed but i was breathing hard but i laid there till my hubby came in and got me he allways has to help me to the car or whereever iam cause once this happens i cant walk i allways need help my dr who did the MRI said i may need to go to a heart dr who may find out more or could my thyriods do this according to my labs my tsh are within range so if that is so then this is something else could it be high aneity?? its so bad i never drive and never go anyplace alone untill they find out what is wrong my sister who has thyriod trouble told me she fell down before but nothing like i do now i did do this same thing as a child of 3 to about 6 my parents never knew why back then the drs didnt know what they know today so should i ask my dr or just go see that heart dr i have appointment for april 10th at 11am .
    vickie45

     
    Old 04-09-2007, 01:06 PM   #9
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    Re: What causes panic attacks and what are the symptoms?

    I really don't know if MRIs are 100% efficient or not, but I'd imagine they are very close.

    So do you actually become unconscious when these spells happen, or do you just fall to the ground? What you described in your last post does sound more like a panic attack. You know what else it sounds like? Hypoglycemia. That sounds exactly like what happens when my blood sugar is extremely low. I become unable to walk and get VERY scared, terrified sometimes, for no reason and my mind goes blank and I can't think. When this happens, do you also feel lightheaded, dizzy, and nauseous?

    Have you only had one thyroid panel done? I have read that thyroid disorders can be difficult to diagnose because your thyroid is constantly fluctuating and will sometimes be in normal range. Personally, I have almost all the symptoms of hypothyroid but only once have my labs shown low TSH.

    Let me know what the heart doctor says. I hope you can find some relief soon.

     
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