Panic attacks: causes, symptoms and treatment

It was a Thursday afternoon and Luis was leaving home for college, As usual. He was walking resolutely and everything seemed normal, but suddenly he started to notice strange sensations he had never felt before. Anxiety, whole body tremors, tachycardia, extreme anxiety and a totally irrational thought: “I’m going to die!”

What are anxiety attacks?

Luis tried to calm himself down – but anxiety, thought, and irrational fear gripped him.He found it impossible to calm down, he believed that what was going on in his mind was going to happen, and in an almost instinctive act, he started running around trying to find some kind of help.

The people who were in this place looked at Luis amazed, Trying to decipher what could happen to the young man, why he was running aimlessly. Those who came closest to Luis could hear a desperate cry: “I don’t want to die!”

More than ten minutes had passed since the backhand, Luis felt his anxiety diminish, his heartbeat settled down and his thoughts and thoughts cleared up. Exhausted after this bad trance, he sat and confused in a park, at the sight of many people who commented amid the mockery “he’s a poor fool”. Frightened and confused, Luis returned home with no logical response to what might have happened to him.

This night marked for Luis a before and after in his life. Luis did not understand what could have happened to him, but he saw how these events are repeated regularly to the point of preventing him from carrying out his daily tasks, including his studies or having a family life like before ‘that night. Fearing to be alone and to express what happened to him before these distressing states became present, Luis feared that his friends and family would take him crazy, and for this reason, he had kept silent about his suffering.

He decided to confide in a very close friend the situation he was going through, And he recommended that she go to a specialist doctor to assess the case. The next day, Luis was decided during the medical consultation, but the doctor did not find anything abnormal. He was referred to a mental health professional who, after several sessions, diagnosed Luis with panic attacks.

This little story we just told is more common than we can imagine. Many people suffer from this anxiety disorder and experience it on their own, without the help of family, friends, and professional help. An increase in panic attacks has been reported among young people between the ages of 15 and 25, with women being the main victims.

What a panic attack

A panic attack is that crisis where the person experiences high levels of anxiety and anxiety with intense terrifying thoughts that something bad can happen.

As Shirley Trickett (2009) points out in her book “How to Overcome Panic Attacks”, panic attacks are defined as “an aggravated reaction to an irrational fear”

currently the origin of this anxiety disorder is not known with certaintyAlthough some studies suggest that certain genetic traits play an important role in the development of these attacks. Such research is not unanimous within the scientific community, because there are voices that warn against other factors as precursors of crises.


According to Trickett (2009), these are some of the symptoms a person has when they have a panic attack:

  • through

  • perplexity

  • dizzy

  • Chest pain

  • Tingling in the body

  • confusion

  • tachycardia

  • tremors

  • Choking sensations

Panic attacks cannot be predicted because there is no time, date or place where they can manifest themselves, causing a change in the social, professional and family life of the person suffering from them given their spontaneous nature.

Many people just by remembering an attack they experienced in the past can suggest it to the point of developing another anxiety attack. Others live day-to-day with an undue concern to endure assault at any time, bringing permanent psychological and emotional suffering into their lives. And there are also people who luckily don’t give too much importance to these episodes and lead completely normal lives.


The diagnosis must be made by professionals, both in the medical and psychological specialty, excluding any somatic abnormality that could lead to an anxiety disorder (total medical examination), or that there is a type of drug or psychotropic substance that the person consumes and a panic attack.

Once the medical process is completed and all of the above causes have been ruled out, it will be up to the mental health professional to assess the person and warn if you meet the indicators to diagnose the case as a panic attack.


There are two types of treatment for anxiety attacks, and two can be combined:

a) Pharmacological: Treatment with anxiolytics and antidepressants, obviously under medical prescription. Only a psychiatrist is authorized to prescribe what type of drug and for what period of time the dose of the drug will be administered.

b) Psychotherapy: In terms of psychological therapy, some schools like cognitive behavioral therapy have reported great effectiveness in such cases. The psychologist will be able to provide an intervention plan with the patient suggesting different ways of dealing with a panic attack and dealing with any situation that the patient dreads with tools and resources to minimize anxiety .

For best results, a combination of the two treatments is ideal and most recommended. Some professionals recommend other types of techniques that can complement the treatment, although they fall outside the scientific field can be considered if the patient finds pleasure in practicing them such as yoga, meditation, etc.

The emotional support that can be offered to a person going through such cases will always be important. As Sigmund Freud said: “Modern science has not produced reassuring medicine as effective as kind words”.

Bibliographical references:

  • Trickett, S. (2009). How to beat panic attacks Editorial Hispano – Europea. Barcelona, ​​Spain.

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