Panic Attacks Symptoms: Panic Attack Signs to Look Out For
October 15, 2012
Panic attacks symptoms are signs of an anxiety disorder, characterized by a sudden onset of intense fear and apprehension, without any apparent cause, and lasting for a relatively short duration. Usually a panic attack begins abruptly, reaching a peak of intensity within around 10 minutes and then gradually subsiding over the next hour or so.
Experiencing panic attacks can be an intensely frightening, upsetting, and very uncomfortable experience in a person’s life, which may take a few days to recover from completely. The effects of panic attacks symptoms vary, but most people during their first attack experience a fear of having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. Subsequent repeated panic attacks are considered a syndrome of panic disorder.
Panic attack symptoms are just the body’s reaction to a perceived ‘threat’ to itself, and high anxiety / fear can be a trigger for this. When your body mistakenly thinks that there is an imminent threat to itself (because of the high anxiety / fear), it switches on its ‘fight-or-flight’ response so that you can fight the ‘danger’ or run away to safety. In this fight-or-flight mode, your body is flooded with hormones, especially epinephrine, which helps the body to defend against this perceived harm. It is these chemical changes that give rise to the symptoms you experience.
Various symptoms of panic attacks may cause the sufferer to feel that their body is failing. In fact, during the attack, the body will be trying to protect itself from harm. The series of reactions in the body are as follows; first there is a sudden onset of fear causing secretion of epinephrine which brings about the fight-or-flight response wherein the body prepares for strenuous physical activity. This response leads to increased heart rate, hyperventilation and sweating. Hyperventilation drops the CO2 level in the blood [respiratory alkalosis] leading to numbness, tingling, dizziness, burning and lightheadedness.
Typical Panic Attacks Symptoms
Panic attack symptoms include; a fear of or a sense of dying, thinking you are going crazy, flashing visions, feeling faint, and nausea. During the attacks sufferers can experience a sensation of numbness all over the body, heavy breathing and sometimes losing control of themselves.
Some people even experience tunnel vision due to blood flow leaving the head for other critical parts of the body. Tunnel vision means that, during panic attacks, a sufferer loses peripheral vision and retains only central vision, resulting in a constricted circular tunnel-like field of vision.
Panic attacks are a response of the sympathetic nervous system. The most common symptoms include heart palpitations, trembling, shortness of breath [dyspnea], chest pain, chest oppression, hot flashes, cold flashes, sweating, nausea, dizziness or slight vertigo and burning sensation in face and neck area.
Other symptoms include lightheadedness, choking or smothering sensation, a tingling feeling all over the body, difficulty moving and derealization. The shortness of breath and chest pain are the predominant symptoms of panic attacks which mimic heart attacks.
A number of other psychological disorders can have panic attacks as a symptom. These psychological disorders include schizophrenia, drug abuse or withdrawal, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Night Time Panic Attacks Symptoms
People who suffer from panic attacks during day time may also suffer from nocturnal panic attacks. Panic attacks symptoms during sleep are called nocturnal panic attacks and 40% to 70% of daytime sufferers will get affected by these night attacks. Nocturnal attacks usually last for less than 10 minutes, but can take a longer time to calm down completely compared with during the day. People who suffer from panic attacks while sleeping will have a tendency for more respiratory distress during their night time attack. People with nocturnal panic attacks also tend to experience more symptoms of depression.
The symptoms of panic attacks are just the result of your body’s fight-or-flight response to a perceived threat that has been triggered by high levels of anxiety. There is no threat, just a perceived one. The rapid chemical changes in your body cause the symptoms you experience. And because they happen so suddenly, without any warning, and with no apparent cause, then you are left in a state of intense fear and foreboding.
But now that you know what these panic attacks symptoms are, what causes them, and that they cannot harm you, you are better prepared to figure out how to stop panic attacks in the future. For more detailed information about how to stop panic attacks naturally please click here.