Categorized | Stress

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Panic Attack Symptoms

Standing in line at the grocery store to check out you suddenly feel an overwhelming sense of dread and fear. You break out in a slight sweat as your throat starts to feel tight and dry. You notice swallowing becomes difficult. The symptoms come on so fast they catch you by surprise.

Your heart rate increases and your mind starts racing with troubling thoughts such as “am I having a heart attack? stroke? something worse?” You feel disconnected from reality in a weird, surreal way. You feel like you’re losing your mind or going crazy. You have a strong urge to abandon your shopping cart and quickly leave the store before “something happens”.

Sound familiar? You may have experienced a panic attack.

In an increasingly complex, busy, and technology-driven society panic attacks are becoming more and more common worldwide. Especially among overworked and overstressed Americans. According to National Institute Of Mental Health over 6 million Americans suffer from Panic Disorder. This represents only a small portion of the total 40 million American adults suffering from Anxiety Disorder.

Panic Attacks begin abruptly and last 10 minutes or so in most sufferers. However they can last an hour or more in some cases. The most common symptoms are:

  • Feelings Of Fear
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Feeling Out of Control
  • A Strong Urge To Flee Or Escape The Place Where The Panic Attack Began
  • A Choking Sensation
  • Having Trouble Swallowing
  • Chest Pains Or Racing Heart
  • A Sudden Fear Of Dying Or Going Crazy
  • Shaking And Unsteadiness
  • Breaking Out In A Sweat
  • Dizziness Or Lightheaded
  • Feeling The Need To Throw Up
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Hot Flashes
  • Stomach Cramps

Many panic attack sufferers continue periodic random attacks over time and develop panic disorder. One of the worst effects of panic disorder is the increasing dread over when and where the next attack might occur. Dwelling on this possibility often triggers another attack. It becomes an endless cycle of fear, dread, and panic.

If you’re suffering from this condition the most important fact to understand is that panic attacks cannot harm you. Period!

It is critical to understand this. Most people, especially those new to these attacks, start thinking of all the bad things that can happen during the panic attack, thus making it worse.

A panic attack is like a false alarm from our brain to our body. When we are in true danger our body’s fight-or-flight mechanism kicks into action to get us out of harm’s way. When we have a panic attack we experience that same rush of fear & terror and all the physiological sensations that can go along with it, like a racing heart, sweating, tightening of the throat, and light headedness. The difference during an attack is that there is no immediate threat present.

If you think you are experiencing panic disorder there are many treatment options available. Panic is a highly treatable disorder. The treatments range from antidepressants and natural herbal remedies to cognitive therapy involving a mental health professional.

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