Is Panic Attack a Mental Illness?. There is a common conception that categorizes a panic attack as a mental illness. In order to properly understand whether or not this is true we need to take a look at what a panic attack really is. Also, we have to analyze what is the cause behind such manifestations and see how that has an impact on one’s body.

Panic Attack?

Panic attacks are usually defined as being a discrete, sudden feeling of very intense fear, anxiety and feeling of discomfort. Usually it is also linked with several different cognitive and somatic symptoms. It is a condition that normally shows an abrupt onset and usually no obvious reason can be observed.

These attacks are considered to be a fight or flight that are flooding the body with several different hormones (mostly adrenalin) in order to aid the body when feeling a need to defend the body from harm.

Ordinarily panic attacks last about 10 minutes. There are of course variations to this, from as small as 5 minutes to severe anxiety attacks that can last several hours.

Sometimes when a person suffer from panic attacks, he/she can also experience anticipatory anxiety, which can happen between panic attacks.

Different individuals will get different affecting levels from panic attacks. Those that already got through many in the past might also be able to eliminate the panic attack without even anyone noticing that it might have appeared.

On the other hand, individuals that suffer from panic attacks for the first time will usually call for emergency services as they might be thinking they are having a nervous breakdown or even a heart attack.

What Causes Panic Attacks?

There are several different causes for anxiety and panic attacks. Once we study them we’ll see whether panic attacks can be considered as mental illnesses.

We need to analyze the cause in order to understand the effect with any medical condition out there, including this one. First off we have long term, predisposing causes, mainly based on heredity.

There are some panic disorders that might run in families and inheritance genes can play an important role when determining who might suffer from panic attacks in the future. Of course one must understand that a person can suffer from panic attacks even if you did not have any previous cases in your family.

Panic attacks can also be caused by different biological causes. These include, among many others, inner ear disturbances, mitral valve prolapse, Vitamin B deficiency, Wilson’s Syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, hypoglycemia and hyperthyroidism. Also, when a person is met with a phobic situation or a thing that can cause phobias it can cause a panic attack.

Some situations might also cause short term triggers for panic attacks. This includes personal loss, a significant life change, different stimulants like nicotine and caffeine, drugs like marijuana or psilocybin and so on.

Side effects of some drugs can also cause panic attacks. Ritalin is one example, but it’s not certainly the only one. There are two possible outcomes in this situation.

Panic attacks can be noticed to appear only when the patient gets the first medication or it can continue even after continued use. As living with panic attacks caused by drugs can be very difficult it is recommended that alternative medication routine is researched. The early stages of use of SSRIs can cause increased anxiety as well.

Those who are suffering from Hyperventilation Syndrome are also prone to develop panic attacks. Chest breathing is known to be a cause for over breathing as excess in exhalation of carbon dioxide when compared to the oxygen in your blood will cause this over breathing.

There are also cases when a person who suffered a panic attack in the past is more likely to get a new one when a certain situation that is similar to that which was seen at the first attack takes place.

This can mean that a person can get a cognitive or behavioral predisposition towards getting a panic attack in different situations. Pharmacological triggers can also have a direct impact.

There are different stimulants, depressants, chemical substances that have the power of pharmacologically contributing to a list of possible triggers. The most common examples can be given in alcohol, amphetamine or caffeine but there are many more that could be mentioned.

In a case like this, individual who suffers from panic attacks might possibly develop a phobia for a certain drug or different chemicals.

Conclusion – Are Panic Attacks Mental Illnesses?

As all can see from the list of causes attached to panic attacks we can sum everything up with a simple conclusion: No, panic attack is not a mental illness.

On the other hand, we could say that there are similarities but the best we can do is to consider them coincidences and the medical condition at hand is simply a cognitive or somatic behavioral situation that has a damaging impact on the human body.

In order to treat it, some practices have been developed and a giant step towards curing the person stands in getting him to confront the external elements that are causing the anxiety episodes.

Treatment options are different exactly based on the cause and the trigger, together with an analysis to the seriousness of the panic attack exhibited. Usually treating the problem is relatively easy but there is also the chance that it might require months of treatment and strong medication in order to end up with completely removing the situation of suffering from a new panic attack.

Also, although panic attacks are not a mental illness, they can be cured in some circumstances with the aid of mental processes based on the power of the human mind. Relaxation techniques for instance have had a huge success in dealing with patients suffering from the condition.

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