Panic Attacks as a Symptom of Addiction

A panic attack is a sudden feeling of fear, dread, and anxiety as if something terrible is about to happen. It is one of the most common signs of drug addiction.  The experience can come on very quickly and for no apparent reason.

Naturally, everyone everywhere has the potential to have a panic attack sometimes, especially when they are in dangerous or stressful situations. However, panic disorders, or panic attacks induced by drug addiction, occur frequently and at any moment, even when there are is reasonable evidence of danger.

Panic attacks can be powerful, distressing, and feel like they are out of the victim’s control. Normally, they last between 5 to 20 minutes, however, some panic attacks have been reported to last up to an hour.

Panic Attack Signs

The more intense the fear and reaction, the longer and more powerful the panic attack, and the symptoms, are. The signs of panic attacks include:

  • Distressing fear or dread
  • Chest pain
  • Excessive chills and sweats
  • Nausea and stomach upset
  • Shaky hands and feet
  • A dizzy or faint feeling
  • Racing heart
  • Dry mouth
  • Hot flushes
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Tingling sensation in the ear
  • Churning stomach
  • A feeling like you are disconnected from your body

When Should You See a Health Professional for Panic Attacks?

If you, or a loved one, suspects a panic attack disorder, with any of combination of these symptoms being noticeable, you should immediately book an appointment with a certified health professional.

The therapist will ask you some vital questions about the symptoms observed, their frequency, and how long you, or your loved one, has experienced them.

They will then carry out an extensive examination to rule out the possibility that there are other causes of the symptoms, before proceeding with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Panic Attack Treatment

It is important to be honest and cooperative and provide all the emotional experiences and personal details that will assist the health professional to more accurately analyse the problem, and any underlying issues, so they can then recommend an effective treatment.

The right treatment will help reduce the number of occurrences of panic attacks and ease the pain. Your health professional may also choose to give you some medications or combine it with CBT. Medications may include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a type of antidepressant, clomipramine, or imipramine (a tricyclic antidepressant).

Pregabalin, an anti-epilepsy drug, or clonazepam, may also be recommended to treat panic attacks, anxiety, paranoia, and other related symptoms of addiction. Usually, people start feeling the effects of the drugs from two to four weeks later, and it may take up to eight weeks to experience their full impact.

Specialised Treatment for Panic Attacks

If, after a treatment session with any, or a combination, of CBT, medications, and support networks, the symptoms of panic attacks still persist, you may have to undergo specialised treatment with a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist at a dedicated health facility.

The specialists will carry out a comprehensive examination of the condition, and prescribe a treatment plan to help you properly manage the symptoms.

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