National Panic Attack Day

This month, on June 18, is National Panic Attack Day. This makes it a great opportunity to increase understanding of what a panic attack is, how to recognize symptoms of a panic attack, and to learn a few helpful strategies when experiencing a panic attack.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), every year around 11% of people in the United States experience a panic attack, and approximately, 3% of people are diagnosed with a panic disorder.

A panic attack is a brief episode of intense anxiety, which causes the physical sensations of fear, including a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, trembling and muscle tension. A panic attack can last from a few minutes to half an hour. 

Common thoughts people have when experiencing a panic attack include, fear of losing control, fear of dying, and fear of going crazy.

During a panic attack, the amygdala (part of brain that processes anxiety and fear) misinterprets the situation, believing the person is in danger, when ultimately the person is actually safe. The body will bring on the physical symptoms listed above to help the person get back to safety (Fight or flight response).  

A diagnosis of panic disorder may be given when a person experiences frequent and unexpected panic attacks, which leads to intense fear of experiencing an attack in the future, resulting in changes in behavior, for example, avoiding situations that may lead to an attack.

Panic Disorder is very treatable with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The Anxiety and Agoraphobia Treatment Center (AATC) is here provides the most effective, evidence-based treatment with both in-person and virtual sessions.

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