Panic is an extreme state of fear or distress, typically involving an abrupt onset of intense symptoms. The term often refers to panic attacks, which are sudden episodes of intense fear that trigger severe physical reactions, despite a lack of real danger or apparent cause.

A panic attack usually peaks within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms: heart palpitations, sweating, trembling or shaking, sensations of shortness of breath or smothering, feelings of choking, chest pain or discomfort, nausea or abdominal distress, feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint, chills or heat sensations, numbness or tingling sensations, feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself, fear of losing control or going crazy, and fear of dying.

Panic is a reaction to perceived threat or danger, activating the body's 'fight or flight' response. This natural response is a survival mechanism, enabling humans to respond quickly to life-threatening situations. However, in the case of panic, this response is triggered without any present danger.

Panic attacks can occur unexpectedly or can be triggered by certain situations or thoughts. They can happen anywhere and at any time, even during sleep. A person who experiences repeated, unexpected panic attacks, and lives in constant fear of another attack, may have a condition known as panic disorder.

The exact cause of panic attacks and panic disorder isn't fully understood, but it's likely to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Some research suggests that people with certain personality traits or those who experience significant life stressors may be more prone to panic attacks.

While panic attacks can feel terrifying, they aren't physically harmful. However, repeated panic attacks can significantly affect a person's quality of life, leading to avoidance behaviours, phobias, or other mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety. Moreover, because symptoms of panic attacks can be similar to those of heart disease, thyroid problems, and other medical conditions, it's crucial to seek medical attention to rule out physical causes.

Several treatment options exist for panic attacks and panic disorder. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that can be particularly effective. CBT teaches individuals to understand and change thought patterns leading to panic attacks, helping to reduce the fear associated with them.

Medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and benzodiazepines, can also help manage symptoms. However, these can have side effects and should be used under medical supervision.

Lifestyle changes, such as regular physical activity, adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and avoidance of caffeine, alcohol, smoking and recreational drugs, can help reduce the frequency and severity of panic attacks. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and yoga, can also help manage symptoms.

Mindfulness and meditation techniques may also aid in reducing panic symptoms. These practices involve focusing the mind and slowing down breathing, which can help lower anxiety and prevent the onset of a panic attack.

In addition to professional treatment, support groups can be beneficial for individuals experiencing panic attacks or panic disorder. Sharing experiences and coping strategies with others in similar situations can provide emotional support and practical advice.

Panic, while distressing and potentially debilitating, is a treatable condition. With appropriate treatment and self-care, individuals experiencing panic can lead fulfilling, active lives. It is important to seek professional help if you or someone you know experiences symptoms of panic. Early treatment can often prevent panic attacks from becoming a regular occurrence or developing into a panic disorder.


Consider adopting the following strategies:

* Recognise the symptoms: Learn to identify the signs of panic and remind yourself that they are temporary and not life-threatening.

* Practice deep breathing: Slow, deep breaths can help counteract the rapid breathing often associated with panic and promote relaxation.

* Ground yourself: Focus on your surroundings or engage in a grounding technique, such as holding onto a familiar object, to anchor yourself in the present moment and reduce feelings of panic.

* Challenge negative thoughts: Identify and challenge any irrational or catastrophic thoughts that may be contributing to the panic.

* Seek professional help: If panic attacks or panic-related symptoms are impacting your daily life, consider consulting a mental health professional for guidance and support.
Consider implementing the following strategies:

* Manage stress: Adopt healthy stress management techniques, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies, to reduce overall stress levels.

* Develop a routine: Establish a consistent daily routine that promotes self-care, relaxation, and a sense of stability.

* Seek therapy: Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or other forms of therapy can help you identify and address the underlying triggers or thought patterns that contribute to panic.

* Build a support network: Cultivate supportive relationships with friends, family, or support groups to share your experiences and seek encouragement.

* Monitor your triggers: Keep a journal or log of situations or experiences that provoke panic and work with a mental health professional to develop coping strategies for managing these triggers.
You should consider seeking professional help for panic or panic attacks if:

* Your panic attacks or symptoms are frequent, severe, or significantly impact your daily life and functioning.

* You experience persistent fear or worry about having another panic attack.

* You avoid certain situations or places due to fear of experiencing a panic attack.

* Your panic symptoms are not associated with a known medical condition or medication.

* You have tried self-help strategies but have not experienced significant improvement in your symptoms.

A mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, can help you develop personalised coping strategies, provide therapy, and, if necessary, recommend appropriate medication to manage your panic or panic attacks.