Panic Attack


Panic Attacks and Anxiety. Symptoms and Relief

A panic attack is a period of intense, often temporarily disabling, sense of extreme fear or psychological distress, typically of abrupt onset. Though it is often a purely terrifying feeling to the sufferer, panic attacks are actually an evolutionary body response often known as the fight-or-flight response occurring out of context. Symptoms may include trembling, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain (or chest tightness), sweating, nausea, dizziness (or slight vertigo), hyperventilation, paresthesias (tingling sensations), vomiting, and sensations of choking or smothering. During a panic attack, the body typically releases large amounts of adrenaline into the bloodstream. Many first time sufferers of a panic attack believe they are dying or going insane. It is a feeling that cannot be described until one has had an attack. Many say panic attacks are among the most frightening experiences of their lives. Repeated and apparently unprovoked panic attacks may be a sign of panic disorder, but panic attacks are associated with other anxiety disorders as well. For example, people who suffer from phobias may experience panic attacks upon exposure to certain triggers. People with panic disorder often can be treated with therapy and/or anti-anxiety/depression medication.

Recreational drugs have also been known to provoke panic attacks in certain people.


Most sufferers of panic attacks report a fear of dying, "going crazy", having a heart attack, fainting or losing control of emotions or behavior. Article with definition of panic attack

Duration and Trigger

A panic attack typically lasts ten minutes according to the American Psychological Association. Read more on duration and triggers of panic attacks

Causes of Panic Attacks

Article with causes of panic attack


Most common symptoms of panic attack include sweating, shortness of breath, racing heartbeat or palpitations. For comple structured list of physical, mental and perceptual symptoms read article about panic attack symptoms.


People who have had a panic attack in certain situations, for example, while driving, shopping in a crowded store, or riding in an elevator - may develop irrational fears, called phobias, of these situations and begin to avoid them. Eventually, the pattern of avoidance and level of anxiety about another attack may reach the point where individuals with panic disorder are unable to drive or even step out of the house. At this stage, the person is said to have panic disorder with agoraphobia. This can be one of the most harmful side-effects of panic disorder as it can prevent sufferers from seeking treatment in the first place.

Panic disorder

People who have repeated attacks or feel severe anxiety about having another attack are said to have panic disorder. Panic disorder is strikingly different from other types of anxiety disorders in that panic attacks are often sudden and unprovoked. An episode is often categorized as a positive feedback loop where the mental symptoms increase the physical symptoms, which increase the mental symptoms, and so on.


Treatment of panic attacks is complex and involve multiple approaches. It can both be treated with medications and with psychoterapy. For more information read this article on panic attacks treatment

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