KIRA STEIN, MD, APC

ADULT PSYCHIATRY - BOARD CERTIFIED ABPN


Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety AttacksAnxiety attacks – often called panic attacks — are characterized by intense mental and physical symptoms that can be overwhelming. Since this is not a psychological term the definition tends to vary. It is typically used interchangeably with panic attacks or to refer to versions that are less severe. Anyone who has experienced one of these attacks usually begins looking  for anxiety remedies right away due to the debilitating nature of the experience.

How Anxiety Attacks Feel

An anxiety attack typically begins as a sudden feeling that something is wrong. The individual may experience physical symptoms that mirror those of serious health issues. The feeling quickly builds and becomes overwhelming. A panic attack culminates in a moment of extreme fear that death or doom, or loss of control, is imminent and then the feeling fades away, leaving the individual frightened and both emotionally and physically drained.

Anxiety attack symptoms include a rapid, pounding heartbeat, chest pains, heart pressure, headache, and shortness of breath. Lightheadedness, weak or tingling muscles, sensations of hot or cold, sweating, and nausea are other common symptoms. Sufferers feel like they are losing control, going crazy, or dying. The panic attack typically lasts less than ten minutes, but the anxiety can take hours to subside.

What Triggers Anxiety Attacks

This condition is different from many others because it can seem to be triggered by nothing at all. The first attack often arrives when a person is very afraid or stressed. Attacks that follow may be triggered by over-sensitization, worry about having an attack, or nothing. Unfortunately, the situation is often mistaken for a serious illness, leading to additional anxiety.  Panic attacks are in and of themselves not life threatening; yet for some people, these attacks may create such severe health fears that hospitalization is required.

Non-Invasive and Natural Anxiety Relief

Once an anxiety attack has begun, it can be difficult to stop. However, some natural anxiety remedies may reduce the severity. Controlled breathing can prevent hyperventilation that causes many of the physical reactions. Being conscious that the situation is an anxiety attack and symptoms will soon disappear can also reduce fear and worry.  A specific type of therapy called, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety, teaches these techniques and others to help people control their anxiety.

Sometimes therapy alone is not enough and medications are needed. The same medications used to treat depression, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can also be effective for anxiety. It is also common for depression and anxiety to occur together. Medications may also be used for break-through anxiety or on an as-needed basis and for sleep. As with any medication treatment, SSRIs can have side effects ranging from mild to severe (see common antidepressant side effects and alternatives).

Cranial electrotherapy stimulation, or CES, is a simple Walkman-sized portable device, usually powered by AA or AAA batteries, that sends gentle pulses of micro-electric currents to the brain. It can be prescribed by certain psychiatrists and other practitioners.  Patients should not feel much while receiving the treatment, though some people experience light-headedness or headaches.  This is usually alleviated by lowering the intensity of the stimulation.  Some CES devices are FDA-cleared for use to treat depression, insomnia, anxiety and chronic pain.
 

  • Article content, © Kira Stein, MD, APC. | West Coast Life Center

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