A panic attack is a sudden surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes. It can occur in the context of anxiety or other mental health disorders (i.e., depression, posttraumatic stress disorder).
You may have had symptoms that resemble a panic attack in the past. Think of a time you felt extremely scared or fearful; did you notice yourself sweating, chest beating uncontrollably, dizziness, or breathing more heavily?
These are similar symptoms of a panic attack but without a clear or obvious threat to one’s life.
The symptoms can be so frightening that one may go to the emergency room with fear they are actually dying.
The symptoms of a panic attack include:
If you think that you are having a heart attack or pulmonary embolism, please call 911 and tell them your symptoms.
Some researchers suggest that panic attacks arise from unsuccessful defense against anxiety causing impulses. This leads to an amplified feeling of apprehension to even a slight trigger. Some may not even have a specific trigger and can have a spontaneous and unexpected attack.
SSRIs have been shown to help reduce the frequency and intensity of the attacks. However, the effect may not be immediate as one would need to take it daily for several weeks before one would notice the benefits.
A panic disorder is defined as recurrent panic attacks. In addition to having the attack, one would feel either:
A Panic attack is a sudden surge of intense fear or discomfort that can occur in the context of anxiety or other mental health disorders. The symptoms of a panic attack include pounding heart, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, and more. Panic attacks can be caused by unsuccessful defense against anxiety causing impulses, and can be treated with medications like benzodiazepines or SSRIs, as well as cognitive and behavioral therapies. Panic attacks generally last for 20 minutes and can lead to mental health issues like depression and phobias. A panic disorder is defined as recurrent panic attacks with persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or changes in behavior related to the attacks.