We have all been in situations that make us anxious – perhaps going to the dentist or getting interviewed by a panel of CEOs for a top job or preparing to make a speech in front of a huge crowd. These feelings of unease or nervousness are usually normal when you are facing a threatening situation or when you are dealing with something that is likely to have a huge impact in your life. Such anxiety can affect your normal functioning for a brief period of time and when the situation has passed, you’ll be your old self again. Most of us already know what does a panic attack feel like.
However, when your feelings of anxiety become grossly over exaggerated it can lead to panic attack symptoms. During a panic attack, your anxiety is so powerful that it completely takes control over your whole body. For instance, you may be at the bus stop waiting for your ride when you suddenly start sweating profusely, feel your heart pounding in your chest, and start hyperventilating. You may feel like you’re getting a heart attack, but then in a few minutes the feelings disappear and you return back to your normal self, feeling confused and frightened about what happened.
What Does a Panic Attack Feel Like?
Here are some real life experiences from people who have experienced a panic attack, courtesy Twitter.
When you go to eat your favorite cereal but it’s really snakes? – Kathryn Rose
Already panicking about what to wear when I go out. I haven’t looked in a full length mirror in about a month. – Gina Unsworth
I’m on my 3rd panic attack of the day. Hoping this subsides soon then bed. – Missy
My heart was racing & I felt powerless to stop it. It became harder to breath & I had pain in my chest. – IamtheHoneyMonkey
I’ve had 8 panic attacks in 3 days worrying about moving and the one I’ve had this morning made me almost vomit on the pavement. – Ash
Common Panic Attack Symptoms
Some common symptoms people experience when having a panic attack include, but are not limited to:
- Heavy pounding of your heart
- Profuse sweating
- Trembling or shaking
- Difficulty breathing
- Dizziness and light-headedness as if you’re about to faint
- Fear about losing control of yourself
- Feel like you’re going crazy
- Hot flashes and cold chills; numbness/tingly feeling in your fingers/toes
- Feel as if you’re about to get a heart attack or die
When and Where Do Panic Attacks Happen?
Panic attacks happen in different situations for different people. It can happen at a very stressful time or it may hit you out of the blue when everything is perfectly normal. It can even happen at night when you’re asleep, leaving you sweaty and shaking when you wake up. The peak times that the first panic attack strikes is usually between the ages of 15 and 30 although it can hit kids and adults at any age. People who have experienced panic attacks usually find the incidents occur in specific situations such as when in a crowded place, when anticipating a major activity or event such as the birth of a baby, or when placed in a situation where they have to deal with their phobias such as when forced to enter closed spaces.
How Long Do Panic Attacks Last?
Most symptoms of panic attack last between 5 to 20 minutes and they usually peak within 10 minutes. In extreme cases, it can even last up to an hour. There’s no saying when panic attacks will repeat. While some people have never experienced it after the first attack, others have had recurring attacks several times a week.
What Can You Do About Panic Attacks
Having a panic attack can be a truly frightful experience. You may feel helpless and fearful never knowing if it will recur again and constantly staying in a state or worry over it. Thankfully, once you become aware of what is happening to you and why, you can find plenty of help at hand to deal with it. Panic attacks and anxiety related disorders are totally treatable and people can experience relief within a short time.
Cognitive/behavioral therapy is one successful way to treat the problem, but there are also other self-help techniques that you can try to cope with it. Talking to someone you trust or someone who has previously experienced panic attacks goes a long way in understanding and accepting the problem. You can try various breathing exercises to relax yourself and manage your anxiety. You can listen to peaceful music, distract yourself by thinking about pleasant thing or take your dog out for a walk. Avoiding stimulants and eating a healthy diet can also make a difference. Keep a diary and note down specifics of where and when these incidents occur so you can identify patterns and find ways to deal with them. Above everything else, tell yourself that you’re just having a panic attack, its not dangerous and you’re going to be okay.
A Word From Our Sponsor: 60 Second Panic Solution