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Panic attacks: symptoms, causes and treatment

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Panic attacks: symptoms, causes and treatment

The panic attacks they are sudden and intense anxiety disorders that can manifest themselves in unpredictable ways, causing great discomfort and fear in the people who suffer from them. These episodes can occur in various situations, even in the absence of immediate danger, and can have a significant impact on the individual’s quality of life. In this article, we’ll explore the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for panic attacks.


According to DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), a panic attack is characterized by the onset of intense discomfort and fear, which reaches a peak within minutes. These are characterized by a range of intense and often frightening physical and psychological symptoms. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Palpitations or rapid heart rate.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Tremors or shook.
  • Feeling of suffocation or shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Nausea or gastrointestinal disturbances.
  • Feeling of disorientation or dizziness.
  • Fear of losing control or go crazy.
  • Fear of dying.
  • Tingling or numbness in the extremities.

These symptoms can last from several minutes to several hours. It’s important to note that panic attacks can vary from person to person, and some individuals may experience symptoms other than those listed above.

Typically, after a panic attack you can experience drowsiness and tiredness, leaving you without energy. One can also feel confused and disoriented. It is possible that a post-attack tension is also felt, linked precisely to the anxiety that it could suddenly recur.

Causes of panic attacks

The exact causes are not yet fully understood, but several factors can contribute to their occurrence. Possible causes include:

  • Genetic predisposition: Some people may have an increased susceptibility to panic attacks due to genetic factors.
  • Stress e trauma: Stressful events such as changes in work or family, bereavement or past trauma, can contribute to the onset of attacks.
  • Substance use: The use of drugs or certain medications can contribute to panic attacks.
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Panic attacks are the result of a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors. Sometimes they can arise in the context of anxiety disorders or in patients diagnosed with depression.

Treatment of panic attacks

Fortunately, there are several effective treatment options. A combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (TCC) e drugs it can be used to help people manage symptoms and reduce the frequency and intensity of attacks.

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on identifying and changing the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to this disorder, learning relaxation strategies, and acquiring skills to deal with anxiety more effectively. There is also the exposure therapythat is, a form of therapy that includes techniques such as gradual exposure to the dreaded stimulus or situation until the patient feels comfortable in that situation.

In some cases, the use of medications to treat panic attacks may be recommended. The antidepressants they anxiolytics they are often prescribed to reduce anxiety and the frequency of attacks. It is important to consult with a mental health professional to determine the treatment that is best for each individual, taking into account individual factors and any pre-existing medical conditions.


Panic attacks can be a scary and debilitating experience, but it’s important to know that there are effective treatment options to manage this condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy and the use of medications can help reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life of people who suffer from it. It is vital to seek support from qualified mental health professionals for an accurate assessment and personalized treatment plan.

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  • https://www.ipsico.it/sintomi-cura/attacchi-di-panico/
  • https://www.humanitas.it/news/attacco-di-panico-che-cose-e-quali-sono-i-sintomi/
  • https://www.msdmanuals.com/it-it/casa/disturbi-di-salute-mentale/disturbi-da-ansia-e-stress/attacchi-di-panico-e-disturbo-da-panico

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