Panic Attack Symptoms - 7 Important Facts You Need To Know

Panic attack symptoms can be terrifying to some people, a sign of an underlying medical condition, or just an annoyance to others. You might be wondering if you've just had your first panic attack? Or you may have expreienced several. Regardless, here are some important things you need to know. Some may surprise you!

1) The most common sensations experienced during a panic attack are:

  • A feeling of extreme anxiety
  • Racing pounding heart
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Hyperventilating
  • Feeling shaky even thought you are not actually physically shaking
  • A sensation of extreme coldness inside your body
  • Numbness or a tingling sensation in your arms and and legs
  • Legs and arms that feel like jelly
  • Feeling short of breath, not being able to get enough air
  • A choking sensation
  • Feeling suddenly dizzy and lightheaded
  • Heart palpitations - missed beats, irregular beats
  • Chest pain
  • Tightness or discomfort in chest or abdominal area
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Temporary inability to think straight or reason
  • Desperate desire to get away or escape
  • Feeling of unreality
  • Fear that you are losing control or going crazy
  • Feeling that you might be dying

You may experience some or all of these without any warning, or they may occur in response to a specific event.

2) Panic attack symptoms can be caused by medical issues

If this is the first time you have experienced these symptoms, go to a doctor to get checked out. If you are feeling really bad call an ambulance.

It is important to seek medical help as panic attack symptoms can be the result of an underlying medical condition, such as heart problems, hypoglycemia, thyroid issues or other health problems. Feelings of anxiety, heart beat irregularities, heart palpitations, dizziness, and feelings of shakiness are common signs of several medical conditions.

3) If you are having a panic attack don't fight the symptoms

If you have had panic attacks before you know that the panic attack symptoms eventually just stop all on their own - without you having to do anything. The panic attack symptoms themselves - although they can be uncomfortable won't actually hurt you.

Ironically, the best way to manage panic attack symptoms is to just let go and let the sensations flow through your body. They will eventually leave. If you tense up and become afraid of them, they tend to hang around a bit longer!

If you find yourself hyperventilating (tingling and lightheadedness can be a sign) try breathing into a paperbag - this can help regulate your breathing and help you to breath deeply - this is will cause your body to relax a bit.

Breathe deeply and slowly from the bottom of your chest.

If the paper bag method does not seem to work for you, there are several other methods you can use to regulate your breathing. One I find works best for me is to take a deep breath and then hold it for as long as you can, then breathe out when you can no longer stand to hold it in any longer. You will notice the sense of relief and relaxation that starts to flood your body.

4) Panic attack symptoms are part of the fight/flight response

Somehow your mind and body have interpreted your situation as being one in need of a dramatic survival response. This may or may not be a realistic interpretation.

Your body is preprogrammed with an ability to shut down all non-essential functions and be instantly ready for an intense reaction in situations where you may need to act fast to save your life. In these situations you will be flooded with hormones that can enable you to run very quickly, or fight with extreme fury. Your heart beats quickly ready to power your body quickly with blood and energy, non urgent processes like digestion are shut down, and your nervous system becomes on alert ready to act with super fast speed and power.

Those of us who suffer from panic issues go into this state of emergency readiness far more than is necessary.

It can be unnerving, annoying and uncomfortable to be frequently experiencing an "alarm" state.

5) Avoidance is a paradox

When something causes us pain or discomfort, the natural response is to avoid it, isn't that right? Yes, it is our natural instinct, but unfortunately when it comes to anxiety a strategy of avoidance will actually makes things worse in the long run.

Avoiding a feared object or circumstance or event leads to immediate relief. That great feeling of relief acts as a reward for avoidance. When you feel better after doing soemthing, you tend to do that thing again - in this case avoiding things. This is fantastic in the short term. The issue is in the long term, avoidance actually strengthens your fear and shrinks your world into one of few options and isolation.

There are ways to get off the avoidance path, and most people benefit from having help with this. It is not often easy to do it on your own, and if you don't do it correctly you can actually strengthen you fear response inadvertently. There are important steps to be sure to adhere to - more about that later.

6) Untreated panic disorder can lead to other unwanted conditions

There is now scientific evidence that indicates that you can develop other conditions like agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, alcohol & substance abuse issues and depression as a result of untreated panic disorder. This makes sense when you think about how worrisome and isolating panic attack disorder can be. You start to avoid activities, certain locations, and even socializing in the hope of preventing another anxiety attack. You may try to self-medicate by drinking alcohol or taking drugs in order to help yourself through anxious events. You see your world shrinking as you do less and see fewer people due to fear of what might happen. This can easily lead to depression and feelings of hopelessness.

7) You can feel better and treat Panic Disorder

Once you understand what is happening in your body and mind, you can start to learn how to better manage your thinking and physical reactions and you will get to a stage where anxiety and panic sensations are no big deal any longer.

There are several different ways you can treat this condition, and the best ones are backed up by years of scientific support.

You can definitely begin to feel more relaxed and unconcerned when you feel sensations of anxiety.

Every one of us is different and unique, but we can all start to feel more comfortable, calm and relaxed by discovering the best ways to help ourselves overcome anxiety and panic.

If you have repeated panic attacks you may have panic disorder. Learn more about Panic Attack Disorder Facts

Read real life stories of people with panic attack disorder in What is a Panic Attack ?

Is there a difference between panic attacks and anxiety attacks? Read real life stories of people with panic attack disorder in Anxiety Attack Symptoms

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