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Panic Attacks - Scary But Treatable

Armen Hareyan's picture

Symptoms of Panic Attack

Panic attacks. They can happen at any time, while you shop, work or even sleep. They can occur for no apparent reason, or in response or anticipation of a feared object or situation.

Panic attacks usually begin abruptly, peak quickly and last from a few minutes to about an hour. The July issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter lists these panic attack symptoms:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating, trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills, flushing
  • Nausea, abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Tightness in your throat, trouble swallowing
  • A sense of doom (People describe fears of dying, losing control, fainting or having a heart attack.)

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The good news is that panic attacks are treatable. If panic attacks are interfering with your life, talk to your doctor about treatment options.

Cognitive behavior therapy: Often the most effective treatment involves meeting with a trained therapist such as a psychologist. About 80 percent of people who undergo cognitive behavior therapy are cured of their panic attacks.

Drugs: A class of antidepressant medications called selective seretonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which includes citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft), can be effective in the treatment of panic attacks. They often show results in six to 12 weeks. If immediate, short-term relief is needed, other anti-anxiety mediations may be used as a bridge to long-term therapies.

Mayo Clinic Health Letter is an eight-page monthly newsletter of reliable, accurate and practical information on today's health and medical news. To subscribe, please call toll free 800-333-9037, extension 9PR1 - ROCHESTER, Minn.