Recognizing the Causes of Anxiety Disorder Attacks 2
Ways to Recognize Unhealthy Panic Disorders
Panic disorder is one of several anxiety disorders that involve an intense, abrupt and oftentimes debilitating period of discomfort and fear. Panic disorders affect millions of men and women of all ages, and can be triggered by several situations or circumstances, real or imagined.
Gerald Klerman of the World Psychiatric Association and author of the book, “Panic Anxiety and Its Treatments” points out that there are several DSM-III-R diagnostic criteria that must be fulfilled in order to classify someone as having panic disorder.
First, one or more of the panic attacks must have occurred when the person was exposed to a situation that doesn’t typically cause anxiety. This could be anything from going to the grocery store, watching a movie they’ve already seen, or washing the dishes. The panic attack must also not be triggered by a situation where the person was the center of attention, such as a public speaking event, a birthday party, or other situation where they were the focus of a crowd.
Secondly, four attacks must have occurred within a four-week period, or the person must have experienced persistent fear after having an attack. Symptoms of fear after a panic attack may include difficulty sleeping, extreme paranoia and restlessness.
Third, during a panic attack the person must also have experienced at least four of the following symptoms: trembling or shaking; sweating; shortness of breath; dizziness; depersonalization; numbness or tingling; hot flashes; fear of dying; chest pain or discomfort; accelerated heart rate; nausea; choking; and fear of going crazy.
Fourth, the person must have experienced at least four of the symptoms in increased intensity within 10 minutes of the beginning of the first symptom they noticed they were having during the panic attack. In many cases, this means the person was feeling very out of control, unbalanced, and even confused.
Finally, the possibility that the attack was triggered by caffeine, amphetamines or hyper-thyroidism must be ruled out. Many people experience the symptoms of panic disorder because they have become dependent on over-the-counter stimulants, or have an unaddressed medical condition. If the person is taking supplements or stimulants, they may not fulfill the criteria for panic disorder by a psychiatrist.
Panic disorder is just one of several anxiety disorders that affect millions of people every year. Panic disorder can become a problem in someone’s life if it interferes with social relationships, or limits the person’s ability to work or live a fulfilling life. If you or someone you know is suffering from panic disorder, there are several treatment options available. Nobody has to suffer from the effects of extreme anxiety and panic attacks for the rest of their lives.
Panic disorder treatments may require medical intervention only in extreme cases; most people can make changes to their lifestyle, ensure they are eating a well-balanced diet and getting enough sleep, and learning healthy ways to cope with stress. Some people may also benefit from taking natural supplements that reduce anxiety and help to alleviate some of the symptoms of a panic attack.
Common Anxiety Treatment Options
Recognizing anxiety disorder symptoms is just the first step towards overcoming the problem. The next step is to find a suitable anxiety treatment plan, and this may consist of medication, behavioral therapy, dietary changes, and nutritional supplementation. According to MedicineNet.com, “if no physical illness is found, [the sufferer] may be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist who is specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Treatments for generalized anxiety disorder most often include a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy.”
Here are some of the most common anxiety treatment options available for people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and other anxiety problems:
1. Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders. Recognizing the triggers of a panic attack, or identifying the root cause of an anxiety attack can be part of cognitive behavioral therapy treatment programs. This type of treatment allows the sufferer to work with a licensed professional to identify the troublesome thoughts, behaviors and patterns to see where they may be behaving in an irrational or inappropriate way.
2. Anxiety medication. Several types of prescription drugs have proven to be effective for treating anxiety disorders, and the type and dosage varies by person and condition. The most common types of medication prescribed to those with anxiety disorder are a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. These drugs have a tranquilizing effect on the body, and include drugs such as Valium, Librium, Xanax and BuSpar.
3. Antidepressants. Many people suffering from anxiety disorders also experience symptoms of depression. In some cases, treating the depression can alleviate many of the effects of the anxiety disorder. Antidepressants such as Effexor and Paxil can help improve the mood, reduce tension and make the person feel more balanced.
4. Lifestyle changes. Reducing stress naturally through regular exercise, meditation or stretching can help to improve the effects of an anxiety disorder and reduce many symptoms. People who experience chronic stress and tension can limit these feelings naturally by undertaking a vigorous cardiovascular exercise regimen, doing yoga or pilates, or meditation regularly. Increasing oxygen and blood circulation can help the person feel more relaxed and centered.
5. Nutritional supplements. For people who have difficulty sleeping or calming down, nutritional supplements such as Valerian extract, chamomile and lavender can help to reduce tension and induce sleep naturally. These supplements may be most effective for people with mild symptoms and brief episodes of chronic anxiety.
6. Dietary changes. Eating certain types of food can increase or reduce the risk of anxiety attacks or tension. Eating too many sugary foods can increase the heart rate and make it difficult to concentrate, thereby aggravating some of the symptoms of anxiety. Calming foods such as milk, oats, lentils and yogurt can help keep energy levels stable and reduce the risk of an anxiety attack. Making minor dietary changes on a regular basis often accompanies anxiety treatment programs.