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A Panic Attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming fear that lasts for a short period of time. It generally comes with no warning or obvious trigger. Symptoms are described below.

The following tips have helped people deal with a panic attack:

  • Mentally change the subject to the present moment. For example focus on what is happening and how you wish to respond to it, or focus on a nearby object. 
  • Focus on your breathing and consciously try to slow it down.  
  • Breath into a paper bag during an attack. (While this works for many people, speak with your doctor before using this technique).

People who have repeated panic attacks, or who have severe anxiety about having another panic attack, have what is medically referred to as a Panic Disorder. Panic Disorders are treatable with therapy by a psychologist or psychiatrist or anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants.

What A Panic Attack Is, Including Symptoms

A Panic Attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming fear that lasts for a short period of time - usually 10 minutes or less. There is usually no warning or obvious trigger. It is much more intense than the feeling we generally refer to as being "stressed out."

A Panic Attack can even occur while you are asleep.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), symptoms of a Panic Attack include:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing, feeling as though you 'can't get enough air'
  • Terror that is almost paralyzing
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or nausea
  • Trembling, shaking
  • Sweating
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pains
  • Hot flashes or sudden chills
  • Tingling in fingers or toes ('pins and needles')
  • Fear that you're about to die or are going to go crazy

It is not unusual for people who are having a Panic Attack to think they are having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown.
There is no way to stop a Panic Attack once it starts. Repeated attacks can continue to recur for hours.

A Panic Attack can be caused by stressful events or there could be a physical reason such as a genetic predisposition, or both.

A panic attack is not dangerous. However, it can be terrifying because it feels 'crazy' and 'out of control.'