Panic attacks are intense episodes of fear and anxiety that often come as quickly as they go. These episodes are frightening: they can mimic heart attacks and other serious conditions leave the sufferer traumatized, and this can lead to panic disorder. Panic disorder is when a sufferer then lives in constant fear of another panic attack, making for a vicious cycle. The signs of a panic attack can be psychological, emotional, and physical – and the symptoms can vary greatly.
Here is a closer look at the signs of a panic attack:
The physical responses of a panic attack are the ones most likely to cause a patient to seek immediate medical attention. These symptoms are usually the result of a flight or fight response. This response is a natural reaction to dangerous, life–threatening situations. A surge of adrenaline is released throughout the body to increase awareness, endurance, speed and strength – the tools we need to flee from, or tackle, dangerous situations.
In the event of a panic attack, the mind interprets otherwise harmless situations as a threat, and so that same surge of adrenaline is released. However, there is no real threat to run away from or fight, and so we have a panic attack instead.
The list of physical symptoms of a panic attack is varied, but some of the more common symptoms are: chest pain and discomfort; a rapid, increased heartbeat; dizziness; numbness or tingling in the hands and feet; nausea; feeling faint; feeling choked or smothered; feeling as if you aren’t able to breathe; hyperventilation; hot or cold flashes; headaches and more.
Just about any physical sensation can manifest during a panic attack unfortunately, and it can sometimes be difficult to determine if the symptoms you are experiencing are signs of a panic attack or signs of a more serious condition. In any event, uncertainly should be treated as the latter, and so immediate medical attention should be sought.
Psychological and Emotional Symptoms
The psychological/ emotional symptoms of a panic attack are no less frightening or debilitating than the physical symptoms. Sufferers can experience feelings of being disconnected from themselves and reality (dissociative); feelings of going crazy or losing their minds; feelings of hopelessness and deep depression; feelings of dread, danger and fear; paranoia; suicidal thoughts and feelings that they are dying or terminally ill.
These feelings can interfere with everyday life – not only when the panic attack takes hold. This can cause great trauma in a person’s life, and make it difficult to experience any joy or well being.
In fact, the psychological and emotional signs of a panic attack can have far more negative consequences on a sufferer’s life than physical symptoms, as the effects can be longer lasting than the brief physical symptoms. It’s very important that the sufferer receive professional help – or at the very least, speaks to a trusted family member or friend – if suffering from any of these negative thoughts or emotions.
What to Do
If these signs of a panic attack are familiar to you or somebody you know, you’ll need to seek professional help. Because panic attacks have such vast and varied symptoms, there’s always the possibility that you are actually suffering from a different condition. Don’t self – diagnose! See a doctor, and let the professionals give you an accurate diagnosis.
This will set you on the road to recovery – panic attacks and anxiety don’t have to take over your life. You can be healed. There are many coping methods to choose from, and both short term and long term methods will be necessary for a complete recover.