Health: Do I Have Panic Attacks?



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De Lic. Mariana Herrero (*)

When we speak of the first, we refer to episodes in which suddenly there is a strong feeling of fear or discomfort that may include palpitations or tachycardia, sweating, feeling of suffocation, nausea, dizziness, chills or suffocation.

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Illustrative picture.

These symptoms may vary in intensity, peaking generally during the first ten minutes, then gradually diminishing, although sometimes the discomfort is prolonged for some time.

Accompanying these feelings, thoughts like "I'm having a heart attack" or "I'm going crazy" tend to appear.

It is important to keep in mind that panic attacks can occur without the person having a basic disorder (that is, a prior illness), but they can also occur in various psychiatric and clinical disorders.

When we speak of anxiety disorder, that is, of a specific condition that falls within the so-called anxiety disorders, it is necessary that the mentioned crises be repeated and the person fears its reappearance (the so-called "fear of fear").

Often, for fear of experiencing a crisis described above in an unknown context, people in a panic avoid leaving their homes or attend places where they believe they can not be helped (shopping malls, parks, elevators, public transportation, etc.)

This is known as agoraphobia, which sometimes increases panic attacks with the expected damages to those who suffer in terms of functionality and autonomy. Fortunately, this image can improve quickly if you receive the proper treatment.

Studies have stated that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with or without adjunctive pharmacotherapy (this will depend on the severity of the disorder), is an effective intervention for the control and management of symptoms. Within the treatment, the patient will learn about his disorder through a technique called psychoeducation and will work collaboratively with the therapist to gradually address the sensations that trigger his fear (expository exercises) while rethinking his interpretations or thoughts about what happens to him . (cognitive restructuring).

(*) Psychologist of the Anxiety Clinic of the Department of Psychotherapy of the Institute of Cognitive Neurology (INECO).

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