2.4 million people in the United States suffer from panic disorder, a kind of anxiety disorder. Panic disorder causes the person to have an extreme reaction to stress—panic attacks. A panic attack is frightening both for the person suffering from it and those who witness it. That’s because a panic attack can resemble a heart attack. If your aging relative suffers from panic disorder, knowing more about it can help you to recognize when they’re having a panic attack.
About Panic Attacks
Panic attacks come on suddenly and cause intense fear though there isn’t any apparent cause for it. The fear isn’t just a terrible feeling, it also causes a physical response. The reaction is so severe that people often think they are having a heart attack or even dying. Some people only have one or two panic attacks throughout their lives, but some people have them frequently. Frequent panic attacks could lead to a diagnosis of panic disorder.
There’s no known cause for panic attacks or panic disorder. However, experts suspect that these factors may be involved:
- Experiencing major stress.
- Being extra sensitive to stress and prone to negative emotions.
- Changes in brain function.
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
Panic attacks come on quickly and can happen at any time. It usually takes just minutes for the feelings to reach their peak and the older adult may feel tired afterward. Though not everyone will have exactly the same symptoms, some of the things they may experience during a panic attack include:
- A sense of doom or danger.
- Feeling like their “going crazy.”
- Pounding heart.
- Feeling short of breath or like they are choking.
- Hot flashes.
- Stomach cramps.
- Chest pain.
- Numbness or tingling.
There is treatment available for panic disorder, so your aging relative should see a doctor. Also, if the older adult is experiencing chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack, seek emergency medical attention.
If the senior has frequent panic attacks, you may notice a pattern and that certain things trigger the attacks. Taking note of what was going on when the attack started, where the person was, and what they were doing can help you to identify triggers and avoid or minimize them in the future.
Elder care can help seniors who suffer from panic disorder or panic attacks. An elder care provider can sit with the older adult through an attack, helping to comfort and calm them. Elder care providers can also remind them to follow the treatment plan suggested by the doctor, including taking medications and practicing relaxation techniques.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in River Oaks, TX, please call the caring staff at At Your Side Home Care. We will answer all of your senior care questions. Call today: (832) 271-1600.
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