A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms:
• Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
• Trembling or shaking
• Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
• Feelings of choking
• Chest pain or discomfort
• Nausea or abdominal distress
• Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
• Chills or heat sensations
• numbness or tingling sensations
• De-realization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
• Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
• Fear of dying
Panic attack symptoms can come on quite suddenly and will typically reach a peak point within a span of 10 minutes. The majority of panic attacks will run their course in about 20 to 30 minutes and will rarely continue for as long as an hour. While that may not sound like a long time, as you may know, when it is happening it can feel as though it will never end. Panic and anxiety attacks can be overwhelming and can start to take over your life if you don’t know how to treat them.
Since many of the symptoms of panic disorder mimic those of a heart attack, difficulty breathing, many people find themselves in the emergency room.