What is a Panic Disorder?

A panic disorder is a sudden psychological attack of fear often accompanied by physiological symptoms that include heart palpitations, rapid heart beat, and heavy sweating.  The reaction of a panic attack is perceived as extreme and excessive in light of the actual situation.  Panic attacks are frequently associated with drug use/abuse, alcoholism, and depression.

Symptoms of a Panic Attack

The symptoms of a full blown panic attack can appear out of the blue and disappear as mysteriously.  Panic attacks can happen anywhere, at any time, and rarely exceed more than an hour in duration.  The following signs and symptoms are strongly correlated with a panic attack:

Difficulty breathing, hyperventilation

Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)

Light to moderate chest pain

Shaking or trembling of hands or whole body

Dry mouth

Sensation of separation from physical surroundings

Nausea, light-headedness

Intermittent hot and cold flashes

Fear of losing control, going insane

What are the causes of panic attacks?

The specific cause of panic attacks is not known.  The experience of panic does tend to run in families and be connected to life transitions, severe stress, and trauma.  Abuse of stimulants such as caffeine, amphetamines, and cocaine reportedly can lead to panic attacks.  Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, opiates, and benzodiazepines are known to increase the risk of panic attacks.

Alcohol Withdrawal Signs

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be so severe that they can quickly become life-threatening if the patient does not receive immediate medical supervision.  The greater the addiction to alcohol and the more prolonged the dependency, the worse the withdrawal symptoms will be.  As alcohol levels drop in the brain, damaged neurons react uncontrollably, leading to severe panic attacks, hallucinations, and even seizures.

Opiate Withdrawal Signs

The symptoms of withdrawal from opiate drugs such as Heroin, Morphine, Oxycontin, Dilaudid, and Methadone include severe anxiety, panic, irritability, flu-like symptoms of runny nose and eyes, difficulty sleeping, heaving sweating, and excessive yawning due to the inability to sleep.  The withdrawal symptoms from opiate drugs are physically uncomfortable, but rarely become life-threatening.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

The group of drugs known as benzodiazepines includes muscle relaxants, anti-convulsants, and sleeping pills.  Examples of popular benzodiazepine drugs include Valium, Librium, Halcion, Xanax, Diazepam, Klonopin, Ativan, Serax, Centrax, and Tranxene.  The withdrawal symptoms for benzodiazepines are very similar to the withdrawal symptoms for opiates.  The most commonly associated withdrawal symptom reported with benzodiazepines is severe anxiety, panic, sleeplessness, depression, irritability, as well as muscular aches and pains.

Burning Tree Offers a Solution for Panic Attacks from Drinking and Drug Use

At Burning Tree, we know that long-term solutions require long-term care.  Our inpatient rehabilitation program specializes in treating patients with co-occurring disorders, so you receive therapeutics found in only the top rehabs in the country.  On-site staff of professionally trained addiction specialists carefully monitors all phases of the detoxification process, ensuring patient safety and well-being at all times.  When detoxification is complete, treatment continues with Twelve Step study and discussion groups, private and group therapy, life skills training, nutritional counseling, yoga classes, community service, and more.  Come and discover how Burning Tree can change your life.  Call or visit your nearest drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment program today.