Panic disorder is a disorder that one of every 75 people may experience. Although they are most likely to occur in the early teenage years, they can start at any time in life. It is rarer to occur over the age of 65. Panic disorder is about twice as common in women as in men. Although the reasons are not certain, it is observed that it is associated with major life transitions such as university graduation, marriage, having a child for the first time. To explain the disease conceptually, it is the misinterpretation of ordinary and harmless sensations as being too risky. Panic disorder is a disease characterized by recurrent unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is the sudden appearance of extreme fear without any indication and for no apparent reason. Individuals have an intense fear of having a heart attack and stroke, fainting, dying, or losing their minds. In individuals with panic attacks, the limbic system (center of emotions) cannot function properly and a simple stimulus is perceived as a danger by the person. The basic mechanism in its formation is irregularities in serotonin, noradrenaline levels. Although genetic factors play a role, how much and how has not been resolved.
Symptoms of panic attack; palpitations, a feeling of heartbeat or an increased heart rate, sweating, trembling or convulsions, shortness of breath or feelings of choking, shortness of breath, chest pain or feeling of tightness in the chest, feeling like you are going to fall or fainting, derealization (unrealism) At least 4 of the symptoms of a panic attack occur within 10 minutes, such as depersonalization (depersonalization), fear of losing control or going crazy, fear of death, paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations), chills, chills, or hot flashes. . Panic attacks can be of three types; unexpected, situational (always in a certain environment: seeing a dog, in a social environment, etc.), situational prone (but not always in certain environments). By arguing that the attack does not happen again, the patient develops behaviors that will limit his life by arguing that he has taken precautions according to himself: not going to the place where the attack happened before, trying not to be alone, avoiding sports, as well as walking around with drugs, thinking if necessary. Often, panic disorder can coexist with agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is the extreme fear of going out alone or being stuck in a closed space (bus or movie theater) and not being able to escape. In such situations, individuals are extremely afraid of having a panic attack or embarrassing themselves and not being able to get help. They avoid these situations or find solutions where they feel safe (like going out with someone, sitting closest to the door).
The effects of past traumas are also seen in people who experience panic attacks. For example; A person who has experienced an earthquake in his life story experiences a panic attack by experiencing the emotions, thoughts and sensations at the time of the earthquake when the emotions, thoughts and sensations during the earthquake are coded to the body and mind, and when there is something reminding of the earthquake in the time periods after the earthquake. In the moment of trauma, the mind is preoccupied with several things, such as the shaking of the place where you are or the sounds of horror or the shouting of people or the smell of earth. In the mind, a thought such as “I will die”, “I will be crippled”, “my children will be harmed”, “I will be alone” passes through the mind, and according to the strength of the thought, feelings such as fear, helplessness and nothingness occur. Hormonally, there is an increase in the level of adrenaline, and these feelings are accompanied by the reaction of the body. With the increase in adrenaline, the body starts to react automatically and the heart begins to beat fast for precautionary purposes, and when the heart beats fast, the need for oxygen arises and breathing accelerates, and rapid breathing causes a tingling sensation in the body and numbness in the neck. The blood pressure is higher or lower than normal, and as a result, the body’s body functions come to normal by the secret prevention system that the body automatically activates, that is, fainting, which is the body’s insurance.
Panic attack; It is a chain of bodily reactions, as in the example of an earthquake. It starts with an event (earthquake), is triggered by emotion (desperation, fear) along with thought (I will die) during the event, and it is inevitable to experience bodily reactions (such as fast beating of the heart, acceleration in breathing, blood pressure, tingling). Since it is the thought that triggers the panic attack, expressing the thought in a positive and logical way prevents the formation of bodily reactions.
Somatic panic attacks can be triggered when we quit smoking, poor eating habits, excessive breathing, using antidepressants, quitting a drug with a calming effect, drugs in the treatment of amphetamines, cortisone and asthma, and bodily pain.
Panic disorder is a curable disease. It is of great importance for the individual to benefit from psychotherapy along with drug treatment in the progress of the recovery process. Antidepressants and anxiolytics are two main drug groups that are effective in the treatment of panic disorder. While drug therapy lasts at least 6-8 months, some individuals require longer drug use. Cognitive behavioral therapy has a comprehensive role in the treatment of panic attacks. Many events have supported this. In CBT, the focus of attention of the individual is directed from the body to the environment and restructuring is provided by working on the schemas that create false danger beliefs in the mind. Thanks to the therapy, the individual is supported to change their self-limiting avoidance and safety behaviors.
If we offer other suggestions for people experiencing panic attacks, first of all, the person should pay attention to their nutrition; Since there may be an increase or decrease in appetite experienced after trauma, regular eating habits should be continued. Another suggestion is to do mental work, which we call relaxation exercises, that is, relaxing trance practices related to panic attacks by imagery. Another suggestion is to provide physical comfort with physical exercises. It is to reduce the stress accumulated in the body with exercises. Stress is like an angry wild animal. It is ready to attack. In the same way, the person faces everything with anger for no reason. All you need to do is to release the muscle tension that arises as a result of stress with physical exercises. Another suggestion is to get social support. Another suggestion is to learn about the body’s automatic responses and normalize the physical responses it experiences during a panic attack. Another suggestion is to get support from moral values. These applications will reveal the fighting spirit instead of escaping from the panic attack disorder. Engaging our mind and body with solutions instead of running away will make the person even stronger.