What is a Panic Attack

What is a panic attack? How do you know if you are having one? Are there any key panic attack symptoms to look out for and are they dangerous to your health? There are a wide variety of symptoms associated with panic attacks. Many of these symptoms are shared with other conditions but it is rare to find several of them occurring at the same as with a panic attack. Also, these symptoms described below usually subside very quickly once an attack is over. The underlying theme for all of them is a sensation of fear and your physical reaction to the threat, even if you cannot describe the source of such fear.

‘Heart’ Problems

It is extremely common for panic attack sufferers to experience what they believe to be heart problems. These can be heart palpitations, fluttering, skipped beats and chest pains. It is in fact quite normal for the heart to skip a beat or to experience some musculo-skeletal pain in the chest region, for example. However in someone prone to panic attacks this can be enough to create a seed of doubt in their mind.
This seed of doubt gives rise to fear and their body’s response to fear is to give the ‘fight or flight’ response to a danger i.e. to increase their heart beat and prepare the body for a large physical effort. Of course, the increased heart beat makes many panic attack sufferers believe that their original doubts were correct and they are now having a heart attack, which only makes the problem worse.

Dizziness, Feeling Light Headed Or Faint

Some people can feel very dizzy and light headed. Their vision may become blurred and the world may no longer seem like a steady place in which to exist. The more you worry about this, the worse it will get.


Increased sweating has long been a sign of anxiety and is the reason that sensitive moisture detectors are used in lie detector tests. The more anxious you feel about a situation that makes you sweat, the more sweat you will produce. In fact, there are some people who have a full blown condition known as hyperhidrosis where they can literally sweat pints of fluid in minutes when put in a situation of social anxiety.

Fear Of Dying Or Losing Control

This is one of the extremely common panic attack symptoms. Sufferers cannot explain it, but they feel a sensation of impending doom and that there is nothing they can do about it. Despite their feeling that they can do little about it, instead of calming their fears this serves only to make them much worse. Nobody Has Ever Died From A Panic Attack Of some consolation to anyone who suffers from panic attacks, it is useful to know that the symptoms will always pass and that nobody has ever died from a panic attack.

This has hopefully given you some answers to the question ‘what is a panic attack?’

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