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What is a crisis of panic?
Anxiety is a natural emotion that allows that we should conduct effective coping to situations that we value as dangerous. When the anxiety exceeds in frequency, intensity or duration no longer be adaptive to become a problem. This
is what happens with the panic crisis, also known as anxiety crisis or
crisis of fear, where the person experiences high levels of anxiety so
intense that get you even "terrify".
Like most of the emotional problems, panic seizures affect more women than men and are 3-8% of consultations in primary care (Katon W, 2006).
In this disorder, more than in any other, information is the best prevention. Panic is, how it can be controlled and, in this way, losing your fear, it is the first and foremost step to overcome the problem.
Symptoms of a panic crisis
Panic seizures are episodes that, at first, are unexpected and are not associated with any particular situation. In
them appear temporary and isolated fear or intense discomfort
accompanied by four or more of the following symptoms, which begins
suddenly and reach their maximum expression in the first ten minutes
(diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DMS-IV-TR,
• Palpitations, tremors of the heart or elevation of heart rate.
• Trembling or shaking.
• Feeling of breathlessness or shortness of breath.
• Feeling of choking.
• Tightness or chest discomfort.
• Nausea or abdominal discomfort.
• Instability, dizziness or fainting.
• Derealization (sensation of unreality) or depersonalization (being separated from one's self).
• Fear of losing control or going crazy.
• Afraid to die.
• Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensation).
• Chills or gasps.
The experience of a crisis of panic is a highly unpleasant fact. For this reason, many patients terrified them of the fact that the crisis will appear stating that they suffer from "fear of fear".
Risk factors of the crisis of panic
We cannot speak of a single factor of risk for the condition crisis panic. The
main of them has to do with an overload of the levels of anxiety that
the patient suffers from what is associated with the increase of a
neurotransmitter called adrenaline. Why there such an increase? The answer to this question is varied and often its accuracy is based on the interaction of several of the following:
• A high trait anxiety: people who tend to interpret as dangerous or threatening situations more are more likely to suffer these episodes.
• An error in interpreting the signals that come from your own body: there are people who are very sensitive and very alarmist way interpret certain biological as the heart rate or breathing rate signals. When they feel a change in some of them they interpret it as threatening developing circle of panic from an autonomic sympathetic nervous system activation.
• Genetic factors: there is one incidence eight times higher than the general population in those patients whose first-degree relatives present this problem.
• The consumption of substances that can alter our nervous system: high doses of caffeine, consumption of stimulants, etc. Also the syndrome of abstinence of some substances (alcohol, tobacco...) can give rise to these episodes.
• Suffering from some disease: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, arrhythmias, and others.
Diagnosis of a panic crisis
Some people experience panic attacks
frequently presenting fear or concern before the possible recurrence of
the same or by the consequences of the crisis may have health. When
this is so, and not because of any medical illness or substance, it is
considered that the person has developed an anxiety disorder.
This problem of anxiety produces significant changes in the life of the patient. The main of all, has to do with the fact that the person avoids or support with a high level of discomfort situations where if it appears the crisis of panic is difficult or embarrassing to escape either may not have help.
This occurs in the vast majority of patients with panic disorder. When this happens, it is considered that besides the previous diagnosis, the person has developed agoraphobia. Situations typically agorafobicas include being outside the home alone, travelling by metro/train/plane, go to places where there are many people (e.g. shopping malls, concerts, restaurants) and away from security zones (go to the mountain where there may not be a hospital nearby, etcetera).
A crisis of anxiety treatment
Due to the risk of complication with
agoraphobia, and the consequent limitation of the daily life of the
patient, it is advisable to receive psychological treatment until the
condition limit her life. Psychological treatments more effective and short for panic seizures are those who follow an approach cognitive-behavioural. Applied
by psychologists, specialists in anxiety disorders, these treatments
are based on teaching the patient different strategies to help you
control panic seizures, reduce them until they disappear and teach him
to confront feared situations.
In some cases, psychological treatment should be combined with drug treatment, which must be indicated by a psychiatrist. The drugs usually used to treat seizures of panic are some types of antidepressants (SSRIS frequently), and benzodiazepines. They should always be under medical prescription and following the indications of this specialist.
What should I do if I get a panic crisis?
Follow a life quietly and without large doses of stress is the best way to prevent panic. While a person may have genetic risk factors, these can cushion is a style of life suitable without stimulating substance.
If you still start to experience a panic crisis it is very important that "don't spread panic" and begin to breathe slowly and abdominal. If you control your breathing, and at the same time say to yourself "these symptoms are due to anxiety and will in a few minutes" the crisis will not go to more. You can help also breathing with a bag; release the air within it and in turn inspire that same air. In this way reduce the hyperventilation, which in many cases is the most agonizing feeling of panic crisis.