Whether panic attacks and are related is a burning question that has been and still is fiercely debated in medical circles. When one has undergone some traumatic event, it is very possible for one to develop a condition called PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Examples of such an event are war, an accident, facing a natural disaster, or an assault. People with PTSD are known to develop a number of other disorders such as anxiety, stress, or panic disorders.
A panic attack is referred to as an experience in which the patient suffers intense fear. Due to this fear, there is a severe body ache, trembling, shaking, increased heart rate, pain in the chest, or nausea. Anyone who has experienced this knows how terrible it can be. There are several factors that determine the relation between panic attacks and PTSD.
The symptoms are somewhat related: While people suffering from panic attacks experience physical symptoms, those with PTSD go through nightmares, memories from the incident, and insomnia. The patients with either of the disorders get into an avoidance mode in which they avoid crowds and places that remind them of the event. They can also experience a loss of concentration and become irritable.
Frequency of attacks: Panic attacks are usually intermittent. They can be caused by certain situations such as being in a crowd, being in an elevator, or visiting places connected to the traumatic event. PSTD attacks are more frequently caused by nightmares, thoughts from the past, or flashbacks.
Avoidance: People suffering from panic attacks live with the belief that if they visit a particular place or do something specific, it will trigger a panic attack. This leads them to avoid certain places and situations. PSTD-affected patients display even more severe avoidance behaviors by avoiding social interaction. Their fear is that such social functions will remind them of the trauma.
Both panic attacks and PSTD can be treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Exposure therapy are known to provide effective and long-lasting relief to patients.