Panic attacks, which are also known as 'the silent epidemic', affect a substantial number of people. Some people only have one panic attack, but with some people, it develops into a full panic disorder. Once this happens, the simple anticipation of another panic attack is enough to cause the next attack. As a result, people with a panic disorder also often develop agoraphobia and/or obsessive-compulsive disorder. In this article, we’ll try to discuss everything you need to know about panic attacks. Whether you are the person suffering from them, or you are trying to understand a loved one, this information should be of benefit to you.

Understanding Everything You Need to Know About Panic Attacks:

1. It is highly unpredictable. You simply do not know when the next attack will happen. Within a split second, you could go from feeling fine, to feeling completely out of control.

2. It is more than a mental illness. Panic attacks have significant physical symptoms as well, which is why they need to be seen in a holistic manner.

3. You can become afraid of being afraid. It is often at this point that panic attacks develop into full panic disorder, as the dread of a possible next attack is enough to stop you from living a fulfilling life.

4. You may experience 'derealization', which means that you feel completely detached from yourself, your surroundings, and even your body.

5. Alcohol often makes panic attacks worse. This is another element of the self-fulfilling prophecy of having a panic attack, because many people turn to alcohol to feel somewhat better. In reality, however, alcohol changes the way neurons communicate in the brain, leading to a further decline in mental health.

6. Panic disorder can evolve into other problems, such as agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). In the latter, it is because you may feel as if you have more control over what you do. Agoraphobia happens because of the fear of fearing, stopping you from going places for fear that you might have a panic attack.

7. You may be prescribed antidepressants to treat your panic disorder. That said, although SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) are commonly prescribed, they should only be offered in combination with psychotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), or the panic disorder will not be resolved.

8. Having panic attacks is not the same as having a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). In the case of GAD, people worry about things that tend to not happen, such as being ran over by a bus. GAD sufferers also always expect the worse to happen and have chronic physical symptoms. While people with GAD may experience a panic attack, not everybody with panic attacks also has GAD.

9. You can manage a panic disorder, which is perhaps the most important in everything you need to know about panic attacks. Even being diagnosed with a full panic disorder is not some sort of death sentence. Help is out there for you, and you can manage this.

10. You are not alone, which is as important as point 9. Other people have been where you are and have come out of it, and others are where you are now and are looking for support.