The Panic Attack Chronicles: 5 Common Symptoms Explained

December 21, 2013

panic attack road sign illustration design over a white backgroundYou’ve just left the doctor with a clean bill of health, but suddenly something’s wrong. Your heart is racing, your head is spinning, your chest is aching, and you’re certain you’re going to die.

Don’t worry. What you’re having is a panic attack, and in this, you’re far from alone.

That’s right. While it may feel as though fate has singled you out, you’re actually in good company. An estimated 60 million Americans have experienced some of the following panic attack symptoms at least once in their lives. That’s about one out of every five people you’ll pass on the street each day.

Emotional Distress
Nearly everyone in the midst of a full-blown attack feels a sense of danger or impending doom. Some believe they must be dying or, worse, going insane. This normally triggers a desperate desire for immediate escape. Losing control would be too embarrassing. What would people think?

Panic Attack or Heart-Attack City?
Thanks to the rapid heart rate and chest pains that often accompany a panic attack, many sufferers firmly believe they’re about to die on the spot. The accompanying hyperventilation, elevated pulse rate and shortness of breath only add to that conviction. Again, the need to beat a hasty retreat seems paramount. No one wants to drop dead in the middle of a crowd.

Changes in Body Temperature
During an attack, you might sweat uncontrollably or flush with hot flashes. The opposite could also be true, with chills and trembling ruling the day. Whichever it happens to be, the symptoms can be as frightening as they are uncomfortable and only add to the expectation that death or something worse is surely imminent.

Gastrointestinal Problems
During a panic attack, the digestion can often go haywire. A tightness in the throat can lead to difficulty swallowing, and nausea or abdominal cramps could have you running toward the exits in a hurry.

Fear of Falling
As if the other symptoms weren’t bad enough, a feeling of faintness, dizziness or even vertigo can have the sufferer clutching the nearest wall, lamppost or human for support: this, on top of everything else. What could be going wrong?

What Panic Attacks are Not
Although panic attack symptoms can closely mimic those of many diseases, a medical exam will normally produce a clean bill of health. During a panic attack, you are not dying, nor are you likely to float away or lose your mind completely. It only feels that way, and the feeling won’t last forever.

In fact, relief could be closer than you think. Many sufferers credit cognitive behavioral therapy with putting an end to these debilitating symptoms. A visit to will show you how it could do the same for you. Take the time to check it out, for as you surely already know, a panic-free life could be priceless.

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