Studies reveal that one-third of the population will encounter at least one panic attack in their lifetime. The signs of a panic attack – racing heart, heaving breathing or hyperventilation, feeling light-headed, and numbness of the hands or feet – can make a person feel like they are having a severe health incident such as a heart attack or stroke. But while panic attacks have no continuing physical effects, the experience itself can cause substantial mental distress and potentially a mood disorder.
Currently, there are 2 main remedies for panic attacks – antidepressant medication and/or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). There are pros and cons to both. CBT concentrates on learning exactly what happens in the brain and body during an attack in order to restore untrue thoughts, breathing techniques, and changing beliefs. The primary purpose of both treatments remains the same – to prevent and de-escalate panic attacks before the person potentially creates a panic disorder and enhance quality of life.