Jul 27th 2023
A panic attack is a highly distressing experience for a person and may result in a person considering suicide. The reasons that somebody might consider suicide during a panic attack commonly fall into three categories. An individual may experience overwhelming distress regarding the intense psychological manifestations of their panic; the individual may experience an intense fear of their panic attack symptoms, or an individual may experience feelings of hopelessness that their condition will ever improve.
People with anxiety disorders and those who have had panic attacks or attempted suicide previously are at increased risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors during a panic attack. Learning how to de-escalate a panic attack and receiving treatment through medication and therapy are ways of improving their outlook.
A panic attack is a sudden, short-lived period of intense fear that typically lasts five minutes to half an hour. Panic attacks are unpredictable and disproportionate to how a person experiencing a panic attack finds themselves.
Physical symptoms of panic attacks include a racing heartbeat, dizziness, shaking, chest pain, breathing difficulties, and a feeling of choking. Other symptoms include feeling trapped, a disconnect with reality, and a fear of losing control, 'going crazy,' or dying.
Research shows a strong link between anxiety disorders and suicide attempts.
While not all panic attacks lead to suicidal thoughts, the acute physical and psychological symptoms can make you feel like you are trapped or going to die. These feelings may increase your fear of having panic attacks in the future and make suicide seem like the only viable way to find relief.
The intensity and frequency of panic attacks can affect the likelihood of suicide attempts. Some people might consider suicide because of the power of the thoughts they experience during the panic attack.
There are a variety of factors that increase the risk of suicide in individuals who suffer from panic attacks. These include:
Learning how to de-escalate your panic attack is the most immediate step you can take to minimize the risk of suicide or suicidal ideation during a panic attack. Ways to regulate yourself and decrease the physical and mental symptoms include:
Below are some options when treating the underlying causes of your panic attacks and to help address any suicidal thoughts during and between panic attacks:
If you experience suicidal thoughts, you can call 911, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
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