According to some reports, 40 million people in the U.S. experience anxiety at least once in their lives, opening the floodgates of a potential anxiety or panic attack. You may be hit by fear or a sensation of losing control, but therapy and medicine like ketamine may control the symptoms.
What is an anxiety attack?
An anxiety attack, also sometimes called a panic attack, “is a sudden, intense fear or anxiety that may make you short of breath or dizzy or make your heart pound. You may feel out of control. Some people believe that they are having a heart attack or are about to die.” The attacks can be scary and so intense that they interfere with daily life, particularly for women, who get more panic attacks than men.
How long will my anxiety attacks last?
An attack may last between 5 and 20 minutes. But it could persist, with some continuing for hours. Anxiety peaks within about 10 minutes of the attack beginning, and if they occur regularly, they’re lumped together as a panic disorder. Multiple attacks of various strengths may happen over several hours, like waves crashing into a beach. At first, they seem out of nowhere, but you may learn to expect them in certain situations.
What causes anxiety attacks?
Many people can experience a panic attack without suffering from panic disorder. Panic attacks may be caused by:
- Consuming large amounts of alcohol or abruptly abstaining from the use of alcohol
- Drinking large quantities of caffeine
- Chain-smoking greatly boosts the level of nicotine in the bloodstream
- Taking certain medicines, like the ones used to treat heart conditions and asthma or suddenly halting certain medicines, including those used to treat sleep problems or anxiety
- Using drugs or illicit substances
- You were exposed to high stress levels for a long time
- Having recently given birth
- If you recently had surgery or were under general anesthesia
Anxiety attack symptoms
Symptoms of anxiety attacks are different for everyone, but generally include any of the following. Some may be treatable with medicine like ketamine.
- Shaking or trembling
- Sensation that your heart is racing or pounding
- Chest pain or soreness
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling like you are choking
- Weakness or dizziness
- An out-of-body sensation
- Numbness or tingling in your arms, feet, hands, or legs
- Hot flashes or chills
- Dreamlike experiences or a sense of unreality
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your prior health. The exam may include a blood pressure check, listening to your heartbeat, and blood tests to discover other causes of your anxiety. You may also undergo a mental health evaluation to see what causes your condition.
Can a phobia lead to anxiety attacks?
Phobias and anxiety attacks are inextricably linked, like spiders and webs. Because phobias themselves are anxiety disorders, it seems only reasonable the symptoms could result in an anxiety attack. Which kinds of phobias may cause a panic attack?
- If you have a fear of animals, you probably suffer from zoophobia.
- Many people have a fear of heights, known as acrophobia.
- Astraphobia is when people fear thunderstorms. It’s also known as brontophobia.
- Agoraphobia is a kind of anxiety disorder where you’re afraid of and avoid places or settings which might lead to panic and make you feel helpless, trapped, or embarrassed.
- Claustrophobia is where you’re afraid of closed-in places.
- “If you become anxious and extremely self-conscious in everyday social situations, you could have a social phobia.”
Other widespread phobias involve highway driving, tunnels, flying, and water. Symptoms can be treated with psychotherapy, meditation or exercise, or ketamine or other medicine.
How to treat an anxiety attack
Treatment for panic disorder and panic attacks includes different kinds of psychotherapy, either individual or group, or medicine. Treatment can help many people manage or even halt attacks. But symptoms can return, especially if you end treatment too soon. Ask a doctor about which treatment is best for your condition.
What about ketamine?
Ketamine is a medicine that was created as an anesthetic. After human trials in the early 1960s, it was shipped overseas to treat wounded U.S. troops fighting in Vietnam. While its power as a sedative was obvious, ketamine’s mind-altering properties soon became known, leading researchers to suspect it could reduce symptoms of mental illness and certain pain conditions. Today, it’s used to treat anxiety attacks, depression, postpartum depression, and chronic pain disorders.
If you suffer from an anxiety attack, it may subside on its own and only be triggered in certain situations. But if they happen frequently, lasting more than 20 minutes, you may be experiencing a more serious panic disorder. Thankfully, symptoms of each can be treated with medications like ketamine.
If you or a loved one would like to learn more about the clinical use of ketamine we can help. Contact us today to see if you would be a good candidate for this innovative new treatment alternative.