Panic attacks are characterized by sudden terror feelings that occur without warning. These episodes can happen anytime, even while you’re sleeping. Individuals encountering fits of anxiety might accept they are kicking the bucket or going off the deep end. During a panic attack, a person’s fear and terror may be unrelated to what is going on around them and out of proportion to the actual situation. It’s possible that you’ll also think you’re having a heart attack because some of the symptoms can be the same. However, the majority of people experiencing a panic attack have previously experienced one that was sparked by a similar event or situation.
A panic attack’s chest pain typically remains in the middle of the chest, whereas a heart attack’s pain typically moves toward the left arm or jaw. You may also experience fear and rapid breathing and heart rate. You become exhausted despite the sudden appearance and disappearance of panic attacks. Panic attacks are characterized by unpleasant physical symptoms in addition to feelings of fear and dread. Attacks do not themselves fall under the category of mental health disorders; rather, they are referred to as a collection of symptoms that are present in conjunction with other mental disorders.
If you suddenly have three or more of these symptoms, you may be having a panic attack:
A panic attack is characterized by a sudden feeling of dread and fear. At least four additional mental, emotional, and physical symptoms accompany these symptoms.
• Chest pain or discomfort
• Chills or hot flashes
• Excessive sweating
• Fear of dying
• Fear of losing control or going insane
• Feeling of choking
• Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
• Paresthesias, or sensations of tingling or numbness,
• Heart palpitations or accelerated heart rate
• Nausea or abdominal pain
Types of Panic Attacks
Expected Panic Attacks
A person experiences anticipated attacks when they are exposed to particular cues or panic triggers. For instance, if a person has claustrophobia or a fear of enclosed spaces, they might expect to have panic attacks when they are in an elevator or other small space.
A person who is afraid of flying a condition known as aerophobia may experience a predictable panic attack while boarding a plane, during takeoff, or at some point during the flight.
Unexpected Panic Attacks
Panic attacks that come on suddenly and without a reason are called unexpected panic attacks. A person can be completely relaxed before the symptoms of a sudden panic attack appear.
There are no conscious internal cues that accompany this kind of panic attack, such as fearful thoughts, intense dread and anxiety, or uncomfortable physical sensations. External cues, such as specific phobias or exposure to a frightening event or situation, do not cause unexpected attacks.
A diagnosis of panic disorder is the most common cause of panic attacks, but other mental health conditions can also play a role. There is a strong correlation between panic attacks and mood and anxiety disorders like:
• Bipolar disorder
• Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
• Major depressive disorder
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
• Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
• Specific phobias
What causes panic attacks?
It is unknown what causes panic attacks in the first place. They can happen at any time and without warning, or they can be sparked by stressful or anxious situations or things. Anxiety disorders and panic attacks may be inherited. In other instances, a brain injury or infection may be the cause of panic attacks. Research on twins suggests that genetic and environmental factors are involved.
Chemical imbalances in the brain are thought to be linked to anxiety disorders, including panic disorders. You may experience abnormal emotions or behaviors when the chemicals (neurotransmitters) in your brain that control your feelings and moods are not properly regulated. You may develop an anxiety disorder like panic disorder if the imbalance is not corrected.
How Long Do Panic Attacks Last?
Although some of the symptoms may last longer, most panic attacks last less than ten minutes. Although extremely unpleasant, an isolated panic attack is not uncommon and is not life-threatening. People who have experienced one panic attack are more likely to experience another than people who have never experienced one, and panic attacks can be a symptom of other anxiety disorders. There is a difference between panic disorder and panic attacks. You may have the panic disorder if the attacks come back on a regular basis and you worry about having more of them.