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Panic Attack Symptoms Explained

What Is A Panic Attack?

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Sometimes an anxiety reaction takes the form of a smothering, nightmarish panic in which people lose control of their behavior and, in fact, are practically unaware of what they are doing. Anyone can react with panic when a real threat looms up suddenly. Some people, however, experience panic attacks –periodic short bouts of panic that occur suddenly, reach a peak within 10 minutes, and gradually pass.

The attacks feature at least four of the following symptoms of panic:

  • heart palpitations
  • tingling in the hands or feet
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • hot and cold flashes
  • trembling
  • chest pains
  • choking sensations
  • faintness
  • dizziness
  • feeling of unreality

During a panic attack some people may experience thoughts and fears that they will die, go crazy, or lose control.

People may experience panic attacks repeatedly and unexpectedly without apparent reason.  When they begin to experience changes in their thinking or behavior as a result of the attacks (for a period of one month or more) then they may be diagnosed formally with Panic Disorder. 

Panic Disorder occurs with:

1. Recurrent unexpected panic attacks.

2. A month or more of the following after at least one of the attacks:

(a) Persistent concern about having additional attacks

(b) Worry about the implications or consequences of the attack.

(c) Significant change in behavior  related to the attacks.