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Have you ever experienced a sudden surge of overwhelming fear? Was your heart pounding and did you think you were going to die? Did you feel like you were unable to breathe and think that you were losing control? If you have ever had this experience, you most probably had a panic attack.

The symptoms of a panic attack can build up very quickly, reaching their peak level of intensity within 10 minutes or less. They then begin to subside within 20 to 30 minutes. During this time, the physical symptoms can include:

  • A pounding heart and fast heart rate
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Feeling short of breath, suffocated or choked
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Sweating
  • Having hot and/or cold flashes
  • Nausea or abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
  • Fear of dying
  • Burning or prickling sensation (paraesthesia)

You may also experience the following:

  • Feeling that your surroundings aren’t real (derealisation)
  • Feeling like your body and thoughts don’t belong to you (depersonalisation)

The intense physical symptoms of a panic attack can lead to people feeling as though they are having a heart attack or that they are going to die.

When can panic attack symptoms occur?

You may have a panic attack out of the blue, without any warning signs or triggers. However, you may have them regularly, where they are triggered by a particular experience or environment.

Panic attacks are also linked to other psychological disorders, such as social anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

How can I manage panic attacks?

Panic attacks can be extremely unpleasant and frightening, and may have led to you changing your lifestyle to try and avoid them. But you don’t have to continue struggling - there is plenty of support available and there are also ways that you can help yourself:

  • Avoid smoking, alcohol, and caffeine as these can make panic attacks worse
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation to counteract the effects of stress and increase feelings of joy and calmness
  • Exercise regularly as this will help you to manage your stress levels, release any tension, improve your mood and boost your confidence
  • Get enough restful sleep as establishing a healthy sleep routine can help to improve your anxiety
  • Connect with family and friends as symptoms of anxiety can worsen when you feel isolated

Support and treatment available at Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai

If you suffer from panic attacks, seeking expert support is an important step. At Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai, our experienced psychiatrists and psychologists are committed to delivering expert treatment for panic attacks including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy.

Your therapist will also be able to teach you relaxation techniques to control your breathing so that you can relieve the symptoms of panic and calm yourself down when you begin to feel anxious.

If you’d like to find out more about the treatment programmes that we can provide for panic attacks, you can make an enquiry online. To speak to someone in person, you can also receive a free telephone consultation by ringing (+971) 4 245 3800.

 

Dr Rasha Bassim is a specialist psychiatrist with more than 18 years’ psychiatric experience, during which she has treated patients of all ages. Dr Bassim’s extensive career started in Egypt, where she worked for 10 years, followed by four years in Kuwait; she has been practising in the UAE since 2013.

As an assistant professor of psychiatry at Ain Shams University, Dr Bassim is also a published researcher in her field, having had over 15 scientific publications in national, regional and international journals and conferences. During this time, she was awarded the ‘Okasha Award’ bestowed upon the young researcher of the year.