Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack

Panic attacks are one of the most common ailments that we have in our society, yet they are also among the most misunderstood. For many that are lucky enough to avoid them, panic attacks are simply the products of weak minds or constitutions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Panic attacks are insidious, real and very capable responses from your body to a perceived threat. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a panic attack ironically is the best way to begin to overcome them.

Here are a number of symptoms of panic attacks and how to recognize them:

Breathing irregularities

Panic attacks often present with shortness of breath, over-breathing (hyperventilation), shallow breathing and accelerated heartbeat. These breathing problems are usually result of breathing too rapidly and not being able to stop without help from medical care or returning to a perceived safe place.

Chest pains

When someone has a panic attack, they often tense their muscles both voluntarily and involuntarily. This can lead to not only chest pains, but also to muscle aches all over the body. The joints in particular can really stiffen up.

Feeling of unreality

This is commonly referred to as depersonalization. It is one of the oddest and most uncomfortable feelings it the world though it is generally totally harmless. The feeling is kind of like everything around you is happening and you are there, but you are not real and active in the things happening.

Dizziness or weakness

This is common as well as your body is using oxygen to fight off whatever you feel threatened by. This can make you feel weak, dizzy or even faint. Ironically, fainting is the quickest way to ensure your body goes back to normal function.

Feeling hot, sweaty or chilled

This can go either way, but sweating is a hallmark sign of a panic attack. This is also another natural response to perceived danger and something we all do. People with panic disorder, however, do it when nothing is threatening them that the average person can see.

Sense of impending doom or danger

This is something that all people with panic attacks feel. It is like a train is rushing down the tracks to run over you, and you can’t do anything to move out of the way. As a matter of fact, nobody can even see the train except for you. This feeling of alienation is a big reason why many with panic disorder have depression or develop it when left untreated.

Tingling anywhere on the body

Hands, feet and arms are all fair game. This is one of the most common symptoms of panic attacks and it is perfectly normal and nothing to be afraid of.

This list of symptoms is in no way comprehensive, though it is very indicative of what a person with panic disorder goes through. If you, or someone you know, have panic attacks on a regular basis and want to understand more about why, contact your local doctor for a checkup. There are wonderful treatments for this problem now.

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