What Does A Panic Attack Feel Like?

April 8th, 2019

Have you ever suddenly started sweating, felt dizzy, began to tremble, and maybe even lost your breath? You might get nauseous, feel numb, or get chills. It may happen when you’re in a stressful situation, or it could just come out of nowhere. The sudden feeling of fear takes over your whole body and leaves you feeling helpless.

You are not alone. You could be one of the many people that experiences panic attacks.

Technically speaking, a panic attack can be described as an intense feeling of fear or extreme nervousness that occurs abruptly. The panic attack itself often lasts for a brief duration, but the effects can linger for several hours. The feeling typically occurs without warning and is often disproportionate to the actual threat or danger.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, (DSM-5) has a distinct list of symptoms for panic attacks. It is classified as a sudden feeling of fear with four or more of the following symptoms:

  • Heart palpitations or accelerated heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or abdominal pain
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
  • Derealization or depersonalization
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying
  • Feelings of numbness or tingling sensations
  • Chills or hot flushes

If you are experiencing recurring symptoms, it’s important to consult your doctor to rule out any other medical conditions or related and co-occurring conditions.

Panic attacks can be a symptom of panic disorder, but they are also common among other anxiety disorders like social anxiety disorder, PTSD, and specific phobias. They can be classified into three categories:

  • Unexpected panic attacks: Occur suddenly without any internal or external cues, and those with panic disorder typically experience these often.
  • Situation-bound panic attacks: Typically occur with a person is subjected to or is anticipating a trigger, like a fear of heights or small spaces.
  • Situational predisposed panic attacks: Similar to cued panic attacks, but do not always occur after subjection to a feared situation.

The feeling of any of the symptoms described above can be highly upsetting, overwhelming, and debilitating. The good news is that panic attacks are 100% treatable and there are many different options to fit your needs.

If you are experiencing panic attacks, we are here to help. David Lawrence Center is a leading provider of behavioral health solutions in Southwest Florida. We specialize in treating anxiety, panic disorder, and other mental health challenges in children and adults. Through a variety of treatment programs – from inpatient, outpatient, to holistic therapies – we can find the best solution for you. Don’t be afraid to get help now – contact us today.

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