10 Symptoms of a Panic Attack

By albert
Reviewed: Dr. Mera
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1958997/
  • 2. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/panic-disorder/index.shtml
  • 3. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/anxiety-bad-heart/story?id=11092179
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Panic attacks are periods of overwhelming fear and a sense of imminent danger. They constitute the main component of the condition called Panic Disorder but they can also be associated with other anxiety disorders as well.

The onset of a panic attack episode is abrupt and usually gives no warnings at all. Often times they end up disrupting the normal functioning of the patient suffering from panic disorder. It is important to state that the patient’s fear is quite real even if there is no real reason to cause this reaction.

Symptom #1: Heart Palpitations

Most people experience heart palpitations when they get panic attacks. For this reason, patients may associate this symptom with other conditions like a heart attack. Usually, there is nothing wrong with the patient’s heart, it just beats faster due to the “fight or flight” response seen in a panic attack.

Knowing that you are getting a panic attack is an important step towards managing it and stopping a full-blown attack. It is important to seek medical attention in order to get an accurate diagnosis and to learn coping techniques to alleviate your symptoms.

Panic Attack

Symptom #2: Chest Pain

Chest pain is yet another symptom of a panic attack. Chest pain and tightness result from breathlessness, heart palpitations and anxiety. However, because of the sudden onset of chest pain in addition to other symptoms, many people may mistake a panic attack for a heart attack.

But while the combination of chest pain, tightness and heart palpitations is discomfiting, these symptoms are generally temporary and soon pass. Nevertheless, longstanding anxiety disorders have been linked to increased risks of heart disease 3http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/anxiety-bad-heart/story?id=11092179. For this reason, people who suffer from anxiety disorders and chronic stress should seek medical care and advice about their heart health.

Symptom #3: Sweating

Sweating is another common symptom of panic attacks. Sweating occurs as a result of increased production of adrenal hormones as one of the body’s reaction to anxiety. These hormones prepare the body for fight or flight. Because the body prepares functions responsible for fight or flight while you don’t need them, the energy is dissipated through cold or hot sweat. Some people sweat profusely while others only sweat lightly.

Because sweating causes the body to lose water, you can help calm yourself down by drinking water to rehydrate. You may also need to breathe slowly to help your body relax.

Panic Attack

Symptom #4: Trembling or Shaking

Trembling or shaking are additional panic attack symptoms. Trembling is caused by the activity of the elevated levels of adrenal hormones, especially adrenaline. This fight or flight hormone is produced to prepare the body for the necessary reaction.

But in a panic attack, there is no need to fight or run away. Therefore, the body finds ways to use up the hormone. Since it causes the sweating reaction, it may also cause trembling or shaking. The trembling or shaking reaction normally affects the hands, arms, legs and feet. To help your body get back to normal faster, calm yourself down by breathing slowly and drinking some water.

Symptom #5: Dizziness or Fainting

Dizziness or fainting are additional symptoms of a panic attack. As a result of the increased production of adrenal hormones during a panic attack, a patient tends to breathe faster than usual. The heart may also beat faster or unevenly. These activities, especially the intake of excess air, cause lightheadedness. Some people may even faint.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to remain calm and try to sit down to prevent falling and hurting yourself. Usually, the symptoms will alleviate in a matter of minutes to an hour. Remember to seek medical attention to get a proper diagnosis.

Panic Attack

Symptom #6: Excessive Sensitivity

A panic attack can elevate sensitivity of various senses to abnormal levels. This is caused by the anxiety that comes over the victim, leading to sensual distortion. You might experience visual or hearing distortion, including ringing in the ears. You could also pick up environmental sounds that you would not hear in normal circumstances.

This can be disturbing to people when they get their first panic attack. However, you can deal with the sensitivities better once you know that they can occur. You will also be less anxious about losing your mind. In most cases, sensitivity is temporary and usually passes once the anxiety attack ends.

Symptom #7: Nausea

This is one of the most common symptoms related to a panic attack. The onset is usually abrupt and the feeling grows in intensity as the panic attack develops.

Vomiting is not usually seen but it can happen for some patients. The feeling of abdominal discomfort should go away as the anxiety levels start to go down.

Panic Attack

Symptom #8: Tingling or Numbness

A tingling feeling or numbness are additional symptoms of a panic attack. These feelings usually occur in certain parts of the body. However, for some people, the tingling or numb feeling may come over the whole body. Others may experience a burning feeling.

Tingling or numbness are believed to result from hyperventilation or excessive intake of air into the lungs. These symptoms of panic attacks may also arise due to the extreme anxiety feeling in the victim. As with other symptoms of panic attacks, the immediate action should be to try to calm down, sit or lie down and wait for the panic attack to pass.

Symptom #9: Dry Mouth

This is another common panic attack symptom. This feeling may come as a result of several issues. Because during a panic attack you are likely to breathe too fast, this may happen with your mouth open. This ends up causing dryness in the mouth.

It can also be related to the increase in anxiety levels causing autonomic responses in your body. If you are experiencing many of the symptoms listed in this article, you should seek medical attention to get a proper diagnosis.

Symptom #10: Fear of Dying

A person with a panic attack may experience fear of dying or fear of losing control. This feeling comes as a result of symptoms like palpitations, fast heartbeats and fast breathing. This collection of symptoms can cause you to feel like you are having a heart attack or are about to die.

Fear of dying affects many people during their first panic attack. In most cases, the feeling passes after the panic attack goes away.

Panic Attack

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