A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense and overwhelming anxiety or fear. Panic attacks cause physical symptoms such as a pounding heart or difficulty breathing, without an apparent cause.
Panic attacks typically begin suddenly and unexpectedly and can be very scary – you may feel like you are losing control, having a heart attack, or even dying.
If you are not sure what is causing your symptoms, it is important to be evaluated by a psychologist and a doctor because symptoms of a panic attack can also resemble other serious health problems.
It is common for people to have one or two panic attacks at some point in their lives. However, it is important to seek treatment if you have recurrent panic attacks. Panic attacks sometimes cause you to withdraw from daily activities, due to fear of having other attacks. If left untreated, panic attacks may lead to a panic disorder or other problems.
Panic attacks are treatable, and the sooner you seek help, the better. Treatment for panic attacks can reduce or eliminate symptoms and help you to regain control over your life. The main treatments for panic attacks are psychological treatment and/or medication.
Psychological treatment can help you understand and cope with panic attacks. With Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, you can gradually learn through experience that symptoms of a panic attack are not dangerous or threatening. CBT can also help you to overcome fears associated with certain situations that you have been avoiding due to fear of panic attacks.