It's more like an anxiety bomb. It's swift and powerful, and it can strike out of the blue.

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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) defines a panic attack as an abrupt surge of intense fear or discomfort, setting off a jumble of unpleasant feelings.

Here’s how to recognize when you’re having a panic attack.

A Panic Attack Comes on Quickly

One minute you’re fine and the next you’re in full-blown panic mode. What’s going on? It’s your body’s fight-or-flight response kicking in.Hormones are released, your breathing accelerates, and your blood sugar spikes.Some people are even bolted awake at night from so-called nocturnal panic attacks.

There May Be No Obvious Trigger

A panic attack is your body’s response to some perceived threat, albeit one that may not be readily apparent. It could be that a person’s survival-mode instincts are excessive.Panic attacks are a symptom of panic disorde. Why some people experience these attacks isn’t entirely clear, although a family history of panic attacks, stressful life events, and environmental factors are thought to may play a role.Panic attacks often begin in a person’s teens or before the age of 25, but they can also strike children and adults in their 30s.

It’s Short-Lived

A panic attack often peaks within minutes before symptoms begin to subside. After a certain amount of time, you might realize there’s nothing dangerous happening.

You May Think You’re Having a Heart Attack

A racing or pounding heart is a common symptom of a panic attack. You might even have chest pain or discomfort. That’s why people having panic attacks often believe they’re having a heart attack. But once in the hospital, they start to feel better because the danger is starting to go away.

It Can Be Hard to Catch Your Breath

Shortness of breath and hyperventilation are clues that you could be in panic mode. Breathing disruptions are one of the most universal symptoms of panic attack.

You Think You Might Faint

Lots of people report feeling dizzy or lightheaded when they’re in the throes of a panic attack. They’re often afraid they’re going to faint. When these feelings surface, a person typically will sit with their head between their legs.What happens is they never have the opportunity to learn if they just ride out that feeling, it will eventually subside. It’s extremely uncommon for a person to actually faint in the context of a panic attack.

There’s a Feeling of Doom

If you’re having a panic attack, you might feel like you’re losing control or that you might die.In certain social situations, people with social anxiety disorder may experience similar sensations, such as fear and trembling. It  turns out that  those awful sensations are much more common in people with panic disorder than with social anxiety disorder.

Your Hands Get Tingly

Panic attacks can cause a pins-and-needles feeling or numbness in your extremities,you can have more severe symptoms, like pseudoseizures too.People will literally fall down to the ground and convulse . But there’s no abnormal functioning of the brain; rather, it’s brought on by severe psychological distress, which could happen during a panic attack.

You Get Sweaty or Have Chills

With a panic attack comes a surge of adrenaline that boosts blood flow to the extremities. All of a sudden, you’re hot. You sweat and shiver to cool the body down. One will often report forehead sweating or palm sweating, although others may report sweating all over.

It’s Like an Out-of-Body Experience

You might feel like you’re detached from yourself or your surroundings, an outsider to your own experience. It’s a feeling of unreality, like in a dream. This symptom is often referred to as derealization.

Your Stomach Might Hurt

No surprise here: When you’re anxious, you can feel it in your gut. Stress and anxiety mess with your digestive tract. Nausea and abdominal distress, like stomach pain, are common symptoms.

You Feel Exhausted Afterward

People who have panic attacks quickly deplete the resources their bodies have marshaled to fend off the presumed danger. Sooner or later, that burst of energy, fueled by a spike in blood sugar, will get spent and they’re going to crash.

After the panic attack subsides they feel “wiped out.”




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