Further care can help alleviate patients’ panic attacks

Question: What are the symptoms to anxiety attacks? Is the condition treatable?

Answer: Anxiety can be mild or severe with symptoms such as feeling sweaty and shaky; rapid heartbeat, having a difficult time relaxing; and difficulty concentrating.

There are different types of anxiety disorders that include panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias and general anxiety disorders. Anxiety can lead to panic attacks.

Panic disorders are repeated episodes of intense fear that often strikes without warning.

Physical symptoms include:

Chest pain

Heart palpitations

Shortness of breath


Abdominal distress

Feelings of unreality and fear of dying.

Sometimes those experiencing a panic attack believe they are experiencing a heart attack, as the symptoms can be similar — resulting in a visit to the Emergency Department.

While some patients can feel embarrassed or discouraged after their visit to the ER, it is important to follow up with your physician to determine if further care is needed to prevent future panic attacks.

There are effective treatments for anxiety disorders that often combine medication and psychotherapy. Medications are available to effectively treat anxiety and include groups of drugs called antidepressants and benzodiazepines.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective, proven form of psychotherapy in treating anxiety disorders. CBT focuses on teaching patients to understand and change their thinking patterns so they can react differently (and perhaps more appropriately) to the situations that trigger their anxiety.

If you or a loved one is suffering from panic attacks, please consult with a physician.

Mark A. Rodriguez, MD, is a psychiatrist with Banner Behavioral Health Hospital. The hospital can be reached at (480) 448-7500.