A Panic Attack is best described as a sudden and intense feeling of fear, anxiety and dread that something is not right and you are in a potentially harmful situation. These feeling appear often without warning even when there is no actual threat close.
There are many symptoms that are commonly associated with panic attacks and every person who suffers from panic attacks will different triggers and symptoms.
If you believe you may have suffered a panic attack or want to learn how to identify if you or someone you know has suffered a panic attack, then this article will help you.
Symptoms of a panic attack
The symptoms of a panic attack are closely related to our fight or flight response, which is an automatic physiological reaction that arises in response to perceived harmful events, stress, threats or attacks. This response has evolved over millions of years and has helped to keep human beings safe from wild animals and other potentially harmful or fatal situations that our ancestors may have encountered.
For example when we would encounter a real threat in the wild such as a large animal, fire or flood our body would release adrenaline preparing us to either fight for our lives or flee the potentially harmful situation.
These days we are faced with fewer life or death situations yet this biochemical reaction still takes place when our mind believes there is imminent harm nearby. Even if consciously we do not feel any immediate threat.
When these symptoms arise and there is no real threat it is diagnosed as a panic attack and provides no benefit or safety to us. Some common symptoms include:
- Feelings of intense overwhelm
- Increased heart rate
- Feeling like you’re losing control or going crazy
- Sweating for no apparent reason
- Trembling or shaking of the body
- Feeling light headed or that you may pass out
- Shortness of breath or tightness in the chest
- Intense feeling of imminent danger
- Chest pain or discomfort
- A sudden rise of negative thoughts and emotions
- Nausea and abdominal pain
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady or unbalanced
- Numb or tingling feelings in your hands, arms, legs and feet
- Feelings of being detached from oneself or losing grip on reality
- The sudden urge to flee your current surroundings
- Turning pale in the face
- Going weak at the knees
- Hot and cold flushes, and burning skin
- Pins and needles
- Uncontrollable thoughts and fears of dying
As you will notice from the list above some of these symptoms are physical in nature, whilst others, such as the fear of dying are completely mental, and in most cases these symptoms will feed off each other as a panic attack rises.
In most cases a panic attack will peak within 10 minutes then slowly subside. In more extreme cases panic attacks can last for much longer.
One of the scariest things about a panic attack is that they often begin without warning and the person suffering the attack will not know what is happening to them. This causes more fear and confusion which adds to the negative cycle and prolonged symptoms.
Find Suitable Treatment
If you or someone you know has suffered a panic attack or believe you may be on the verge of suffering a panic attack, it is important to seek professional help immediately.
By talking to your doctor or a therapist who specialises in panic disorders you will be able to manage and overcome the issue with proper treatment.
The more you educate yourself about the causes of symptoms (such as reading this article) the better you’ll be able to deal with any panic attacks in the future and reduce their duration and severity.
Treatments such as Quantum Neuro Recoding (QNR) have been proven to significantly reduce the likelihood of panic attacks. 98% of all our patients see an improvement in panic attack symptoms in their first session. We often see a full recovery from panic disorders but the end of our 8 session drug free treatment program called the Emotional Empowerment Program.