Anxiety and panic attacks: what they are and how to deal

Written by: Dr. Sergio Oliveros Calvo
Edited by: Top Doctors®


What is it and what causes anxiety?

The body has a system that regulates the activation level is the noradrenergic system, by the locus coeruleus, and is a system that enables the body to adapt to the environmental requirement levels. Therefore, if the activation system is operating in an excessive way respect to the requirement of the medium that is resulting in symptoms of anxiety. I would not worry, I would not be upset if I have tachycardia or a feeling of breathlessness if I'm reacting to a traffic accident, but it would be if I'm in the office working and have these symptoms.

As the causes can be physical or may be psychological. Physical causes may be metabolic, for example, lack of vitamin D, hormone, hyperthyroidism. But the most frequent cause is psychiatric causes, since anxiety accompanies most psychiatric disorders, such as obsessive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attack, depression, psychosis, and so on.


What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety has psychological symptoms and physical symptoms. The most important psychological symptoms are feeling anxiety, feeling restless, unable to stop, the need to escape, etc.. Insomnia is also common in anxiety. As for the physical symptoms are characteristic tremor, tachycardia, increased respiratory rate, gooseflesh, even diarrhea, shortness of breath, and so on.


What is a panic attack?

As mentioned earlier, the Locus Coueruleus regulates the level of activity, activation of the body, in a proportional manner. In the panic a shock that core, sudden, completely disproportionate to the requirement that may be in the environment at that time, and that translates into increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, feeling occurs the air, tremor, gooseflesh, increased muscle contracture, feeling of fear, need for urgent flight missing, and so on.

Characteristically is a situation that does not last more than 15 or 20 minutes since the core is small and takes little, say, to liquidate all deposits noradrenaline you have, and leads to a state of subsequent prostration more or less short, that may last minutes, rarely one hour, and then it assumes a perfectly full recovery.


How should you react to it?

Faced with a panic attack first thing to consider it is that nobody is going to die from a panic attack. The panic is a temporary situation that lasts as we said 15 or 20 minutes and leaves no permanent injury. Not crazy, not kill, it does not cause any problems. That's very important to note the patient, who is suffering a panic attack. Second, that knowledge will give you a sense of mastery that then missing because your body is reacting in a completely uncontrolled manner.

During the panic it is often hyperventilation, increased respiratory rate, and increased levels of oxygen, which can be translated into a tetanic contraction of the joints occurs, and then it is very useful breathing into a bag plastic that we increase the supply of CO2 to the lungs

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dr. Sergio Oliveros Calvo

Dr. Sergio Oliveros Calvo is a psychiatrist specialized in psychotherapy oriented to the psychology of the self, with special dedication to personality disorders and somatization disorders; offers a complete and integrated vision of mental illness thanks to its solid training in psychiatry and psychotherapy, and its more than 25 years of clinical and research experience. He has done part of his training in the United States and directed numerous scientific investigations. His knowledge and professional trajectory have enabled him to be a teacher in numerous centers, both in Spain and in the United States.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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