Nighttime (nocturnal) panic attacks occur with no obvious trigger and awaken you from sleep. As with a daytime panic attack, you may experience sweating, rapid heart rate, trembling, shortness of breath, heavy breathing (hyperventilation), flushing or chills, and a sense of impending doom. These signs and symptoms are quite alarming and can mimic those of a heart attack or other serious medical condition. Although nocturnal panic attacks usually last less than 10 minutes, it may take a while to calm down and go back to sleep after you have one. It’s not known what causes panic attacks. Underlying factors may include genetics, stress and certain changes in the way parts of your brain work. In some cases, an underlying condition, such as a sleep disorder, can cause panic-like signs and symptoms. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms and whether you should have any tests for a possible underlying condition. Treatment including medications and mental health counseling (cognitive behavioral therapy) can help prevent panic attacks — and reduce their intensity when they do occur.
The two main treatments for anxiety disorders are psychotherapy and medications. You may benefit most from a combination of the two. It may take some trial and error to discover which treatments work best for you. Psychotherapy
Also known as talk therapy or psychological counseling, psychotherapy involves working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms. It can be an effective treatment for anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective forms of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders. Generally a short-term treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on teaching you specific skills to gradually return to the activities you’ve avoided because of anxiety. Through this process, your symptoms improve as you build upon your initial success. Medications
Several types of medications are used to treat anxiety disorders, including those below. Talk with your doctor about benefits, risks and possible side effects. -Antidepressants. These medications influence the activity of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) thought to play a role in anxiety disorders. Examples of antidepressants used to treat anxiety disorders include fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), imipramine (Tofranil), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), sertraline (Zoloft) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR). Citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro) also can be effective, but dosages of 40 milligrams (mg) a day of citalopram or 20 mg a day of escitalopram warrant discussion of risks versus benefits. Your doctor also may recommend other antidepressants. -Buspirone. An anti-anxiety medication called buspirone may be used on an ongoing basis. As with most antidepressants, it typically takes up to several weeks to become fully effective. -Benzodiazepines. In limited circumstances, your doctor may prescribe one of these sedatives for relief of anxiety symptoms. Examples include alprazolam (Niravam, Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan). Benzodiazepines are generally used only for relieving acute anxiety on a short-term basis. Because they can be habit-forming, these medications aren’t a good choice if you’ve had problems with alcohol or drug abuse.
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A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, having a heart attack or even dying. Left untreated, panic attacks and panic disorder can result in severe complications that affect almost every area of your life. You may be so afraid of having more panic attacks that you live in a constant state of fear, ruining your quality of life. Complications that panic attacks may cause or be linked to include:
–Development of specific phobias, such as fear of driving or leaving your home -Avoidance of social situations -Problems at work or school -Depression
-Increased risk of suicide or suicidal thoughts
–Alcohol or substance abuse
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