Two Signs Of A Panic Attack Coming On

Two Signs Of A Panic Attack Coming On post image

People are unaware of the
symptoms of a panic attack coming on, psychologists have found.
The two main bodily symptoms
of a panic attack are breathing too fast and increased heart rate, research
These symptoms can begin up to
an hour before the panic attack, although people often do not notice them until
the last moment.
One of the best ways of
dealing with a panic attack is by controlling breathing.
Breathing more slowly helps to
lower the heart rate and reduce the feelings of losing control and unreality.
With panic attacks, people
often report that they happen spontaneously, without being cued by anything
But this research suggests
they are a result of being very vigilant to relatively small fluctuations in
heart rate and breathing that build up over up to an hour.
For the study, 43 people with
panic disorder were monitored around the clock.
Portable recorders measured
their heart rate, respiration, skin conductance and so on.
When they had a panic attack,
the results showed exactly what happened in the body leading up to it.
Alicia E. Meuret, who led the study, explained:
“The results were just amazing.
We found that in this hour preceding naturally occurring panic attacks, there
was a lot of physiological instability. These significant physiological
instabilities were not present during other times when the patient wasn’t about
to have a panic attack.”
People reported that the panic
attacks were spontaneous, but there were actually many warning signs.
Meuret said:
“The changes don’t seem to
enter the patient’s awareness. What they report is what happens at the end of
the 60 minutes — that they’re having an out-of-the blue panic attack with a lot
of intense physical sensations. We had expected the majority of the
physiological activation would occur during and following the onset of the
panic attack. But what we actually found was very little additional
physiological change at that time.”
classic psychological signs of a panic attack are:

  • feeling of unreality,
  • fear of losing control,
  • and fear of dying.
physical signs are:

  • shortness of breath,
  • heart racing,
  • dizziness,
  • chest pain,
  • sweating,
  • hot flashes,
  • trembling,
  • choking,
  • nausea,
  • and numbness
Meuret said:
“Most patients obviously feel
that there must be something going on physically. They worry they’re having a
heart attack, suffocating or going to pass out. Our data doesn’t indicate
there’s something inherently wrong with them physically, neither when they are
at rest nor during panic. The fluctuations that we discovered are not extreme;
they are subtle. But they seem to build up and may result in a notion that
something catastrophic is going on.”
The study was published in the
journal Biological Psychiatry (Meuret et al., 2011).
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.