Anxieties can cause incredible suffering, especially in combination with panic attacks, which are usually a short-lived but more intense form of anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear. Anxiety is a worry about future events and fear is a reaction to current events. These feelings may cause physical symptoms, such as a fast heart rate and shakiness. There are a number of anxiety disorders: including generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobia, social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, panic disorder, and selective mutism. Often the same individual has more than one anxiety disorders, but in many cases, there might only be one type.
The first panic attack can occur as from nowhere and the sudden sense of imminent death or literally going crazy usually comes as an enormous and sudden shock. In many cases, it has five stages:
- An ominous feeling of an imminent panic attack. A heightened sense of self-consciousness with beginning hyperventilation and other symptoms.
- The sense that there is no way to avert the full-blown panic attack.
- The panic attack with hyperventilation, heart palpitations, the sense of imminent doom and/or death.
- Alternations in the intensity of the panic attack, leading to a decline after about ten minutes.
- A post-panic phase in which there is a sense of exhaustion and sometimes elation that it is over.
Since the first panic attack often occurs in adolescence or young adulthood, the individual might not know what a panic attack is. In older people, panic attacks often lead to visits to the hospital emergency admission.
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Dr Jonathan Haverkampf, M.D. MLA (Harvard) LL.M. trained in medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy and works in private practice for psychotherapy, counselling and psychiatric medication in Dublin, Ireland. The author can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the websites www.jonathanhaverkampf.com and www.jonathanhaverkampf.ie.
This article is solely a basis for academic discussion and no medical advice can be given in this article, nor should anything herein be construed as advice. Always consult a professional if you believe you might suffer from a physical or mental health condition. Trademarks belong to their respective owners. No checks have been made.
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