You’ve heard the stories of a person rushing off to hospital thinking that they are having a heart attack, dying, or going crazy, only to be told that there was no problem other than anxiety. The symptoms of a full-blown panic attack can be overwhelming scary – especially if you’re experiencing them for the first time. And to top it all, the symptoms and fright caused by a panic attack often don’t become easier to deal with the first few times round either.
It’s important therefore to be able to recognize the symptoms of a panic attack if you are an anxious person, prone to panic disorder, or have had an attack before. Recognising the symptoms and knowing how to cope with them effectively gives you a great advantage in reducing the attacks, and being able to start overcoming the disorder.
Rapid Heartbeat and Palpitations
One of the most common symptoms of a panic attack is that of a rapid heartbeat and/or palpitations. This, coupled with a pain or tightness in the chest is what often leads sufferers to believe they are having a heart attack. Numbness in the arms and hands is also another cruel way in which panic sufferers are tricked into believing that they are experiencing a heart attack.
So here’s the thing: if you experience any symptoms that cause you to feel or suspect that you may be having a heart attack, the best thing to do is to get to your hospital’s emergency ward. Yes, it may turn out to be a panic attack – and what a fortunate thing that would be. But because of how closely the one can mimic the other and due to the slim chance that it very well could be a heart attack; it’s better not to risk it by taking up valuable time trying to decide which one it is.
Dizziness and Light-headedness
These two symptoms can present themselves for a number of reasons: dehydration; hunger; heat exhaustion; over – exertion; and low blood sugar. There are other possible causes too, including a panic attack.
If you are experiencing this, it’s best to take a seat to prevent possible falls which can lead to far worse complications. Taking a moment to regain yourself will possibly give you the strength you need to be able to take control of the situation – be that getting someone’s help, having a glass of water, or just resting if you are under stress.
If on the other hand you experience this in combination with other serious symptoms like a headache or blurry vision, seek immediate medical attention.
Feelings of Choking
Feeling constricted in the throat, as if being choked, is certainly not a pleasant feeling. The most certain way to determine if this is merely a symptom of a panic attack or if it’s an emergency situation is through pure logic. For example, have you recently eaten, swallowed, or inhaled anything that would cause anaphylaxis or constrict your airways? Another way is to see if you can still talk, breathe, and swallow. If you can do these things, the feeling is almost certainly caused by anxiety. If not, then seek emergency care.
Hyperventilating is when breaths are deeper and more frequent than they should be, which causes an imbalance in the natural ratios of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our bodies. This imbalance can cause many of the other symptoms of anxiety like dizziness and an increased heartbeat. It can also be the other way around, when hyperventilating is a nervous response to these symptoms. Regulating your breath to be shallower and longer can greatly reduce feelings of anxiety.
Feeling Out of Control or Dread
Possibly the worst symptom of a panic attack is feeling as if you are dying, or losing touch with the reality. A frightening sensation, this is best dealt with by vocalizing your feelings and having someone reassure you and support you through it. This symptom can cause trauma after the event, so it’s best to receive professional therapy to find healing and come to terms with the experience.
Understanding these symptoms is only the beginning. It is always advisable to seek medical attention if you fear for your well being, and to receive treatment to deal with panic disorder. symptoms of anxiety attack.