Have you ever had an overwhelming, intense surge of fear and anxiety, which caused you to have feelings of chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, and or numbness? If so, you may have had a panic attack and if you did, trust me, you are not alone. Today, we're going to talk about panic attack symptoms and how to know when it's time to seek treatment.
What Is A Panic Attack?
A panic attack is an intense, overwhelming, sudden feeling of fear and anxiety. You get this intense feeling of an imminent threat or danger or fear. You get a sudden rush of impending doom.
What Does It Feel Like When You're Having A Panic Attack?
Well, it can literally feel like you're about to die. You can have chest pain, shortness of breath, numbness, tingling, and or sweating. That's why many people who are having panic attacks end up going to the emergency room. Most panic attacks peak over a matter of minutes and they'll last for less than 30 minutes, but that time or the total duration of the attack can vary. So, panic attacks can actually last from a matter of seconds to hours.
Have You Ever Had A Panic Attack? If So, Please Comment Down Below And Please Share Your Symptoms Of A Panic Attack.
How Do You Know If You're Having A Panic Attack?
Well, there's actually a very specific diagnosis. According to the DSM-5, 5th edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders you have to have at least 4 of 13 symptoms to be having a panic attack.
Panic Attack Symptoms:
1. A Pounding Heart Or Chest Palpitations
Now, I don't mean a pounding heart after you just finished going for a jog, or sprinting up the stairs. I mean, if you're pretty much in a restful position, and all of a sudden you feel your heart palpitating, or you feel a pounding.
2. Chest Pain or Discomfort
Again, not after intense exercise or when the room is really hot. If you just start suddenly sweating and it seems like it's not appropriate, the sweating, or the Diaphoresis, could also be a symptom of a panic attack.
Other symptoms include:
5. Shortness of Breath
10. A Feeling of Choking
11. Feelings of Being Detached from One's Self
Feeling a sense of detachment from yourself can be a symptom. If you feel like you are outside of yourself looking in, almost an out of body experience, that could be a symptom.
12. Fear of Losing Control
13. Fears of Dying
It's tricky because you can be having many of these symptoms at one time, and so it may not be easy to categorize if you're having exactly 4 of these symptoms. For example, if you are feeling chest pain, shortness of breath, and numbness, then, it's very likely that you could also be trembling, but not notice. At any rate, for an official diagnosis of a panic attack, you need to have at least 4 of these 13 symptoms.
Now that we have identified the symptoms of a panic attack in the actual diagnosis of a panic attack, you may now realize that yes, you have had a panic attack before. But if you've had only one or two panic attacks in a lifetime, especially if the panic attacks were surrounding an identifiable, stressful situation, then that's actually quite common. For example, if you got a panic attack after you were in a truly dangerous situation, or if you were about to give a major speech, or had a really big life-changing interview, and got a panic attack, well, those are real stressors, and yes, it's common to have one or two panic attacks.
It becomes an issue if your panic attacks are recurring. If they're recurring, and if you start to change your behavior, or if you start to exhibit avoidance behavior to prevent yourself from having a panic attack, then, the panic attack may actually be a panic disorder.
What Is A Panic Disorder?
You may actually have a panic disorder when you have recurrent panic attacks causing you to avoid doing behaviors that you think may elicit a panic attack. It may cause you to want to avoid going shopping or it might cause you to want to avoid being around certain people, and you may have certain expected triggers. Triggers that you know may cause you to have a panic attack. So, now you have avoidance behavior, trying not to be around those things but then you may also have unexpected triggers with a panic attack where you're just in a situation that seems calm, seems non-stressful, but you still have a panic attack.
You may wake up from your sleep with a panic attack. All of this means that you could have a panic disorder. Now, if this is the case, it's time to seek treatment and yes, there is treatment for panic attacks and panic disorders.
What you want to do is, again, be sure you identify and treat early because you don't want to progress to yet another disorder, Agoraphobia. You may have heard of Agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is when you have such avoidance behavior that you have an extreme, some would say irrational fear, of open spaces, and public or crowded places.
Agoraphobia may make it so you don't want to go anywhere. You may not want to ever go to a shopping mall. You may not ever want to go to a post office. You may not want to ride public transit even if you have to. You may not want to get on a plane or a train. You may not want to get on a bus. You may avoid so many things that it really makes having a regular routine, or functional life, a near impossibility.
Agoraphobia may cause you to actually never want to leave your house because you don't want to be anywhere where you can't escape. Of note, you can have panic attacks, or panic disorders, in the setting of other disorders. You can have panic disorder in the setting of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. You can have panic disorder in the setting of substance abuse.
Panic Attack Treatment
The good news is that there is treatment for panic attacks and panic disorders. You can be treated with psychotherapy or medication if needed. There is something called cognitive behavior therapy, a type of psychotherapy, where you learn more about your panic attacks. You learn about your triggers, and what causes you to have your panic attacks, and learn to monitor them.
You can keep a journal and you really talk about the environment, how you feel the things that surround the panic attacks. There are also certain behavioral techniques, such as breathing, or relaxation techniques. Things that can perhaps help you to avoid a panic attack if you feel it coming. If needed, you may also be treated with medications. Certain things like the SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. You may even need Benzodiazepines.
The important thing is to identify the problem so that you can treat or manage the problem. If, indeed, you are a person having recurrent panic attacks, or you feel like you have a panic disorder, please contact your physician. Seek treatment and find out your options. I hope you found this information about panic attack symptoms helpful. Also, if you have not done so already, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit that notification button so you'll be among the first to know when I release new content. Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Dr.Frita. Meanwhile, I want you to do your absolute best to live your healthiest, happiest life.