Understanding Panic Attacks

Vlog Summary: Candace A. McCullough explains the basics of panic attacks. Panic attacks can be very frightening experiences, with symptoms that may include some, but not necessarily all, of the following: a racing heartbeat, difficulty breathing, sweating, feeling crazy or like you are about to die, feeling like you are choking, numbness, feeling paralyzed or unable to move, or feeling detached from reality.

Although panic attacks last less than ten minutes, the intensity of the symptoms can make them feel much longer. While many people may feel nauseous or physically uncomfortable in certain situations (i.e., before speaking to an audience), panic attacks symptoms are far more excessive, extremely intense, and beyond normal, nervous reactions. Panic attacks are common and happen to many people during their lifetime.

There are a number of possible causes of panic attacks. Among these are: family history of panic attacks, biological/medical reasons (i.e., diabetes or glucose-related, hyperthyroidism, or heart problems), psychological stressors or mental health issues (i.e., grief, depression), and overuse of stimulants such as caffeine, sugar, and even some medications (i.e., ADHD medication).

Keeping a record of when panic attacks occur can be helpful in identifying what triggers them. As a rule, if you experience any of the symptoms of panic attacks, it is a good idea to see your doctor to make sure there is no medical cause. Once this has been done, and if panic attacks continue, working with a Deaf mental health professional (i.e, counselor, psychotherapist, psychologist, or social worker) can be helpful in managing the attacks.

A mental health professional can work with you to help you understand your panic attacks better, teach you breathing and relaxation exercises, and show you how to change your thoughts and interpretations of bodily symptoms and/or situations that might precede panic attacks. All of these may be enough to reduce or resolve your panic attacks. If not, medication is also an option.

To cite:

McCullough, C. (2007, November 29). Understanding Panic Attacks. ASC on the Couch. Retrieved (date retrieved), from http://www.ascdeaf.com/blog/?p=330

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