Dr. Barbara Huggins

Panic Attacks

August 23, 2007

Panic Attacks -  August 23, 2007It can happen when you're alone or with others, in public or at home and even while you're sleeping. Suddenly you feel out of control and terrified. You may have chest tightness and shortness of breath. No, it's not a heart attack but it may be a problem that affects over three million Americans. Dr. Mom reports on one man's story.

It can happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. Suddenly, without warning, your heart begins to race, your face flushes and you experience shortness of breath. You may feel dizzy, nauseated and out of control. Some people feel like they’re having a heart attack or even dying.

Panic attacks affect 1 in 75 people and usually affect women more frequently than men. They usually appear during the teen years or early adulthood, but can occur at any age.

What is a Panic Attack?
A panic attack is an overwhelming sense of fear or terror that comes without warning and for no apparent reason.

Symptoms of a panic attack are often similar to symptoms of a heart attack. These include:

A panic attack is not life threatening but can be terrifying not only to the one having an attack but for the person watching. It is important to seek medical attention ASAP. Your physician may have you undergo a physical examination and series of tests. If the work-up proves to be normal, it is quite possible that the diagnosis may be a panic attack. Once several panic attacks have occurred, the diagnosis may change to panic disorder. Treatment includes cognitive behavioral management and medications.

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