Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack You Should Know

panic attackA panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear with no apparent cause or trigger. This intense emotional response can trigger physical reactions. When a panic attack strikes, a person may feel that they have no control, that they are having a heart attack, or feel as if they’re on the verge of death.

Most people may experience one or two panic attacks in their lifetime. Others suffer from recurring panic attacks, which can be highly stressful and take a negative toll on a person’s long-term health.


The good news is that panic attacks can be managed and treated to reduce the occurrence.

What Are the Symptoms of a Panic Attack?

Knowing the signs and symptoms of a panic attack can better help you identify if you are experiencing one or not. These symptoms include:

  • Sense of impending doom or danger
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Rapid, pounding heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in the chest
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Feelings of detachment

The onset of a panic attack is sudden and can occur at any moment, regardless of what you’re doing. This can make them particularly dangerous because they can occur when you’re driving, for example, which increases your risk of an accident.

Panic attacks are often short in duration, typically lasting about 10 minutes, but when you’re experiencing them, it could feel like an eternity.


It is unclear as to the cause of panic attacks, but it is known that a person who experiences one panic attack has a higher risk of experiencing future panic attacks. Many panic attacks may stem from lifechanging experiences such as marriage, divorce, having children, losing a job, etc. For others, panic attacks may run in the family.

Panic attacks are treatable, but you need to speak to your doctor if you experience any of the above-listed symptoms. Better managing your panic attacks can improve your quality of life and your health.

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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.


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