How does it manifest and what does it lead to?
Panic attacks are normally very sudden, scary and stressful. And this is exactly why a number of people who have suffered the inconvenience tend to avoid certain activities they'd normally enjoy for fear of suffering another attack. That's why it is very important to fight the source of such an attack, rather than miss out on the good stuff of life instead.
What does it feel like and how could it be dealt with?
The sensation experienced while suffering a panic attack is one of an unclear state. This means that the subject is uncertain of whether it is purely psychological or physical. This is also why many people who experience sever panic attacks sometimes tend to confuse them with heart attacks.
The most common symptoms of a panic attack would include: racing heart beat, a dizzy feeling, sweating and shallow breathing. An overpowering sense of death and disease is also frequently present.
Sometimes it is very difficult for a person to break the vicious cycle of panic attacks he or she may be stuck in. The cycle may be triggered by one or a few symptoms.
One such example would be the panic attack a person may experience while just starting to work out. Such a scenario may cause his or her fear to increase thanks to the fact that the heart starts beating faster while the person is performing exercise.
Furthermore the level of anxiety the person is feeling may increase while his or her system attempts to fight off the stressors. This increased level of anxiousness may, and often does, in turn, lead to a rich range of other more severe symptoms.
This cycle then becomes more frequent and number of panic attacks increases proportionally, which only makes it harder to prevent future attacks.
The good news is that there is a number of known ways of fighting off these attacks.
One such method is called Interoceptive Exposure. According to its design, the subject is to be exposed to the known triggers of the panic attack, but it is also to be done within the boundaries of a controlled environment. The patient may be asked to simulate the sensation by means of, for example, breathing through a small straw for a while.
Furthermore, aside from other methods involved, when a person is consciously forcing him/herself to experience the factors of a panic attack, even the confrontational act itself is considered a way of lowering the level of anxiety he or she will feel the next time around.
Conclusively, doing this in a controlled environment allows the subject to learn about the reason behind the symptoms that they thus may be more easily tackled.