Panic attacks can be devastating for those suffering from the condition. Attacks come at random and can occur frequently or can have long periods of time between episodes. The fact that attacks can't be anticipated causes more anxiety. Ultimately, two thirds of the people who have a panic attack will be diagnosed with a panic disorder within a year following their first attack, and half of those who go through a panic attack will develop clinical depression within a year. It seems that panic attacks and depression often go hand in hand.
The first thing to do after experiencing a panic attack is to go through a medical evaluation so physical conditions can be ruled out as the cause of the panic attack. Overactive thyroid, heart problems, too much nicotine or caffeine, certain medications, and abuse of alcohol or illegal drug use can cause symptoms similar to panic attacks. Scientists aren't sure what causes true panic attacks. They may be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Sometimes panic attacks are an inherited condition. Many times there is no physical reason for an attack, but it is best to get medical help to rule out physical causes.
Repeated anxiety attacks can cause depression and panic attacks can turn into a panic disorder. The anxiety of wondering if another panic attack is on the way causes severe stress and sometimes thoughts of suicide in people who suffer from them. Since panic attacks are frighteningly similar to symptoms of serious medical conditions such as heart attacks, people naturally become more anxious that their attacks may be life-threatening. The lack of control that sufferers go through is often depressing as is the fact that they can't anticipate an attack. If a person has lived with panic attacks for a while, the anxiety they feel can give them low self-esteem or may lower their self-image which also can result in depression. Panic attacks and depression combined can make people feel like they are in a downward spiral that can never be escaped.
When panic attacks and depression occur together, it is best to get help from a qualified psychiatrist. Early intervention can help the person before the condition affects their lives too much since often people will avoid the places or situations they feel bring on their panic attacks, leading to a decreased quality of life. Depression is a serious condition and needs to be treated separately from the the panic attacks. But, anti-depression medication, certain types of psychotherapy, or a mixture of the two can effectively treat the individual who suffers from panic attacks and depression. Dr. Darvin Hege, an Atlanta-based psychiatrist, says "addressing the core panic disorder or other condition with the vast selection of tools with which psychiatrists are familiar will likely result in relief and success."
Dr. Darvin Hege has 25 years of experience dealing with patients who have panic attacks and depression simultaneously. He offers evening and weekend office hours at his Atlanta, GA practice. Call today at 770 458-0007 for an evaluation for relief of your panic attacks and depression and for help deciding the most effective and safest treatment.