Suddenly your heart is racing, you break out in a cold sweat, your breathing becomes uncontrollable. Are you having a heart attack or are you experiencing a panic attack? Just what is a panic attack? What are the signs and symptoms of panic and anxiety attacks?
A panic attack is a period of intense and debilitating sense of extreme fear and loss of control. The onset of an attack is often very abrupt and happens without warning. One out of 60 people experience a panic attack during their lifetime with up to 10% having an attack once per year.
The panic attack is more than just excess anxiety; it is much more intense, it occurs very suddenly, and it generally happens more than once. Suffering from panic and anxiety attacks doesn’t mean that the sufferer has a mental disorder or a psychological condition. Generally, the person having these problems are under excessive stress in other areas of their life. The overwhelming nature of these other stresses tend to foster a sense of being out of control and eventually the onset of a panic attack.
Some of the most common symptoms of a panic or anxiety attack are:
- Racing heart rate
- Hot/cold flashes
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
A panic or anxiety attack is considered to be full-blown when it encompasses four or more of the above symptoms. It is considered a limited attack when fewer than four symptoms are experienced. Although it can seem like an eternity, attacks generally last ten minutes or less. The symptoms of a severe panic attack are when the attack comes in waves with the attack symptoms lessening but not completely subsiding before another attack begins. Needless to say this leads to physical and mental exhaustion for the sufferer.
The panic attack is more than just excess anxiety; it is much more intense, it occurs very suddenly, and it generally happens more than once. Once you are aware of the signs and symptoms of panic and anxiety attacks, you can begin to treat them and rid yourself of these debilitating events.