Panic attacks: what is it, symptoms, what to do?

The term «panic attack» defines a severe violation of the functional state, which is accompanied by painful symptoms, including anxiety and fear. This condition develops frequently (about 5% of cases), especially in people with a predisposition against the background of exposure to various precipitating factors.

Attacks of panic – what is it?

The functional activity of all internal organs regulated by the autonomic part of the nervous system and several hormones produced by the endocrine glands. On the autonomic nervous and endocrine system is influenced by cortex, therefore, changes the person’s mood and psychological stresses appear on the internal organs.

In turn, the change in the functional activity of the autonomic (parasympathetic and sympathetic parts) of the nervous system, as well as increased production of adrenaline by the adrenal glands even more triggers excessive stimulation of the cerebral cortex. This condition develops as a chain reaction, leads to painful, unpleasant feelings are the result of changes in the functional activity of internal organs, heart, blood vessels, and excessive excitation of brain structures.

Causes of panic attacks

The development of impaired functional activity of the nervous system is the result of the implementation of several groups of reasons. These include:

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  • Pathology of the endocrine system, accompanied by increased production of stimulating hormones pheochromocytoma (hormone-producing tumor of the adrenal glands, which increases the production of adrenaline and noradrenaline), hyperthyroidism (increased functional activity of the thyroid gland, with increased production of thyroxine and triiodothyronine).
  • Pathology of the heart and blood vessels – atherosclerosis (deposition of cholesterol in arterial walls in atherosclerotic plaques), arrhythmia (changes in frequency and rhythm of heartbeats), prolapse («subsidence») of the mitral valve with its partial closure, dystonia.
  • Diseases of the nervous system – neuroinfection, closed or open craniocerebral trauma, neurodystrophic disorders.
  • Metabolic disorders, accompanied by periodic hypoglycemia (lower blood sugar).
  • Psychological disorders – neurasthenia, increased emotional lability (mood swings), tendency to depression (a prolonged and marked reduction in mood).
  • Taking certain medicines (psychostimulants, caffeinated medications), excessive coffee.
  • Genetic predisposition – especially the functioning of the nervous or endocrine systems are inherited from parents to children.
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Panic attacks on a background of the underlying cause and the presence of predisposition provoked by various factors, which include stress, a change habitual way of life, infectious diseases (influenza, bacterial infection of various localization), surgical intervention.


An anxiety attack is characterized by specific clinical symptoms from various organs. We are talking about such symptoms as:

  • The feeling expressed palpitations, pulsation of large arteries (often in the neck).
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  • Increase systemic blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Visual disturbances (floaters, fog before the eyes), hearing (tinnitus).
  • Tremor (shaking of hands), discomfort, a sensation of tremor all over the body and chills.
  • Pain and discomfort in the region of the heart in the form of pricking or squeezing.
  • Feeling short of breath, rapid breathing, shortness of breath.
  • Marked dizziness, emergence of pre-existing conditions.
  • Abdominal discomfort, nausea (sometimes accompanied by vomiting), unstable stool, feeling of a lump in the throat.
  • Frequent urination with increased amount of urine (polyuria).
  • Paresthesia (disturbance of sensation in the form of numbness, tingling) of the skin of the extremities, face and trunk.
  • A feeling of unreality, depersonalization of man, the decline of self-criticism.
  • The appearance of confusion thoughts, inability to concentrate and to control his actions.
  • Agonizing fear of death, to go crazy, severe insomnia.

A panic attack has different severity and combination of symptoms that depends on the individual. It manifests itself in the form of attacks, especially against the effects of precipitating factors. To diagnose the reasons for the development of panic attacks are different methods of instrumental, laboratory and functional studies.


Therapeutic interventions are complex, they involve the systematic use of various medicines outside the period of anxiety attack (sedative drugs, blockers of adrenergic receptors by increasing the level of adrenaline), as well as assistance during the deterioration of the human condition.

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What to do during an attack?

First aid panic attacks is to perform a few simple recommendations:

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  • Reduction of hyperventilation of the lungs by regulation of breath – you should try to breathe evenly, to reduce the increased of oxygen you can breathe in the package, or clasped hands.
  • Psychological auditory training should be repeatedly repeating in my mind that this condition is not life-threatening.
  • Switching focus from panic attacks to other thoughts (recommended calmly and evenly mentally to count to 100). This also applies to relatives who are expected to behave calmly and not to focus people’s attention on the attack.
  • Introduction or taking of sedatives (Diphenhydramine solution, which introduces a medical worker, tincture of Valerian, motherwort).

To prevent the re-development of panic attacks diagnose causes of this condition in a medical facility, psychological trainings, and to avoid situations that may trigger the development of asthma.