Panic attacks are sudden and unexpected periods of intense fear, anxiety, or terror that can occur for no apparent reason. They can be very frightening and can cause physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Panic attacks are a common problem, affecting up to 6 million adults in the United States each year. Knowing the symptoms of a panic attack can help you recognize one if it happens and get the help you need.
Physical symptoms of a panic attack can include:
- Racing heart or palpitations
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or feeling smothered
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or faint
- Feeling hot or cold
- Numbness or tingling sensations
Psychological symptoms of a panic attack can include:
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Fear of dying
- Feeling detached or disconnected from reality
- Intense feelings of fear, terror, or dread
- Feeling like your mind has gone blank
Duration and Intensity
Panic attacks can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. The intensity of the symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Some people may experience a single panic attack, while others may have multiple attacks over a period of time.
It is not always clear what triggers a panic attack, but there are some common triggers, such as stress, certain medications, and environmental factors. Other triggers may include certain situations or events, such as being in a crowded place or being alone.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you think you may be having a panic attack, it is important to seek medical help. A doctor can diagnose a panic attack and recommend treatment options. Treatment may include medications, psychotherapy, or both.
It is important to remember that panic attacks are very treatable and that you do not have to suffer in silence. If you think you may be having a panic attack, seek help from a doctor or mental health professional. With the right treatment, you can learn to manage your symptoms and lead a healthy and fulfilling life.