What are the Symptoms of Panic Attacks?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 January 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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The symptoms of panic attacks often include things like a strong sense of fear, a feeling that someone is about to lose control, and chest pain. Many other symptoms can accompany a panic attack. In all cases, panic attacks occur when the body's flight or fight syndrome is triggered, flooding the body with hormones which cause fear, anxiety, and strain, but there is no actual reason to be afraid. Panic attacks can be part of a larger anxiety disorder, or a symptom of a panic disorder. There are treatments available to deal with panic attacks.

Panic attacks can last anywhere from a few seconds to thirty minutes. A variety of things can cause panic attacks, including phobias, triggers of traumatic memories, some medications, and drug withdrawal. Once a patient experiences one, he or she is likely to experience more, making it critical to get treatment as soon as panic attacks start occurring.


Other symptoms of panic attacks include: increased heart rate, sweating, nausea, vomiting, chills, pale or flushed skin, blotchy skin, numbness or tingling sensations, an intense need to run, and a choking feeling which makes it hard to breathe. People may also start to feel disassociated from the surrounding environment, entering a dreamlike state in which they think that they are not actually present. The symptoms of panic attacks can be so severe that the patient feels like he or she is dying, and although panic attacks are not fatal, the fear of death can be debilitating for the patient.

Several techniques for the treatment of panic attacks rely on responding when the symptoms of panic attacks start to appear. These treatments can include slow deep breathing, lying down, talking to someone who is supportive, taking anti-anxiety medications, or using guided imagery to try and focus during the attack. Patients may also remind themselves that they cannot die of a panic attack, and reinforce the idea that they have nothing to be afraid of.

Symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks are not just unpleasant for the patient. They can also represent a major hindrance socially or professionally. A real estate agent who has panic attacks while driving across bridges, for example, will not be able to provide complete services to clients, and someone who regularly experiences symptoms of panic attacks while in crowded environments may not be able to socialize with friends, go to concerts, and engage in other public activities. Getting treatment can help patients get panic attacks under control, and address the underlying anxiety or panic disorder which is causing the problem.



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