I Get Panic Attacks - am I mad?
During or after a panic episode you may well question your sanity but panic disorder is actually a problem of anxiety. Although clearly a psychological problem, people with panic disorder do not share symptoms commonly associated with mental illness.
Can Drinking Coffee Cause a Panic Attack?
The real question here is whether caffeine can bring about an episode of panic. Caffeine is found in a number of products including chocolate, tea, cola, and certain medicines (cough syrups for example). In experiments, caffeine has been shown to induce panic, and for this reason some people with panic disorder choose to avoid caffeine. This is a matter of personal choice. In moderation there is no reason to assume caffeine will be the cause of panic symptoms.
Will I Faint or Lose Consciousness during a Panic?
Fainting only occurs when the blood pressure in the body gets too low. During anxiety episodes blood pressure actually increases, therefore although you may sense you are going to faint, it can't actually happen. What you are actually sensing is the wooziness that sometimes comes with the rush of hormones associated with fight or flight.
Is Panic Disorder Inherited?
There is certainly evidence to suggest that a predisposition to anxiety can be passed on but it is not inevitable. Panic disorder is not actually inherited although it does seem that first-degree relatives have a higher than average chance of displaying the symptoms. Many children have concerns about a parent with high levels of anxiety or panic attacks but they do not appear to acquire or ‘learn' to panic, which is a concern of many parents.
Will I Ever Get Better?
This may in part depend on whether and how you are treated. Not very much in the way of evidence exists as to the natural course of untreated panic disorder. We do know that many people with panic disorder also have symptoms of agoraphobia. Left untreated this can spontaneously improve in around a third of people within two years. Cognitive therapy is highly effective in the treatment of panic disorder and the long-term prognosis is good. However, the trigger for panic is often a build up of stress and symptoms can return in some cases.
Are Panics Damaging Me?
The stresses and strains associated with repeated panics are wearing. Lifestyle and behavior are affected and this raises questions as to whether the immune system or other physical processes are being negatively affected. There is evidence that long-term stress can and does have an effect on the immune system. In terms of panics, there is little to suggests that panic episodes per se have a negative influence on health, unless of course we include the psychological effects.
Can Hypnosis Cure Me?
The ‘active ingredients' of hypnosis are the trance-like state of relaxation and the associated suggestions that panic attacks will cease. Full evaluations of hypnosis are a little difficult to come by and what exists is a little thin on effectiveness. Available evidence suggests that post-hypnotic suggestions tend to be relatively short lived. This contrasts strongly with cognitive therapies which are thoroughly grounded in research and have very good results.