You sent an email to the wrong person, forgot to pick up your kid at school, or locked your keys in the car — all of us have been through panic-inducing situations like these.
A little bit of panic is healthy, and it's actually your body's way of telling you there's a danger or threat you need to respond to. However, when you have panic disorder, your body triggers an overwhelming, unexpected attack of fear and worry without a clear cause. We call those instances panic attacks.
The first step in treating panic attacks is identifying them accurately. Dr. Mark Rybakov and our team in the Brooklyn and Manhattan boroughs of New York City, New York, have years of experience diagnosing and treating mental health conditions like panic attacks.
We know it can be difficult to discuss struggles with mental health, so in this blog, we help start the conversation and give you a few things to look for.
Recognizing a panic attack
Panic attacks are intense episodes of fear and anxiety that can strike without warning. Symptoms and severity can vary from person to person, but panic attacks have a few distinguishing symptoms that separate them from other mental health issues. Typically, an attack can last anywhere from 5-20 minutes and usually involves symptoms including:
- An overwhelming sense of terror
- Racing heart or palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling like you're choking
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Sweating or chills
- Shaking or trembling
- Numbness or tingling in your hands, feet, or face
- Chest pain or tightness
But the physical symptoms are just one side of the coin. Panic attacks also impact your mind. Many with panic attacks have racing, uncontrollable thoughts. You may also experience derealization (feeling of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself).
Why do panic attacks happen?
Unfortunately, there isn't a straightforward, one-size-fits-all answer as to why panic attacks happen, and for many, there's no clear cause. There is a link between panic attacks and specific events or factors, such as stress, traumatic experiences, phobias, or even certain medical conditions. There may also be a genetic component to panic attacks.
Each person has a unique set of triggers and experiences. Therefore, each person needs a unique treatment plan. So, it's essential to seek professional help from our team if you're struggling with panic attacks.
What are my treatment options?
Panic attacks are overwhelming and can disrupt your daily life, but you're not a lost cause.
A panic disorder specialist like Dr. Rybakov works closely with you and creates a customized treatment plan to help you regain control of your mental health.
We focus on treating the whole person rather than addressing individual symptoms, which is the best way to approach mental health issues. Usually, we begin with cognitive behavioral therapy or exposure therapy to help you establish coping mechanisms and confront your fears.
Anti-anxiety medication is another common treatment for panic attacks, but we aim to prioritise non-prescription options first.
Don't spend your life looking over your shoulder, wondering when the next panic attack could strike. Instead, schedule a consultation online or over the phone with Dr. Rybakov and start your path to a healthier, more peaceful life.