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Are You Having A Panic Attack? Common Symptoms And Signs

Apr 28, 2008
You've just returned home from a typical workday, and you are tired. You are sitting on the sofa in the living room, watching television with a cup of soda in one hand and the remote in the other.

Suddenly you feel lightheaded and the room seems to close in on you. You discover that it's becoming very difficult to breathe, and your heart starts to race. As you struggle to breathe, your body breaks out in a cold sweat and you start to shake as a feeling of overwhelming dread comes over you, and you become convinced that you are about to die. Within twenty seconds, you are convinced that you're going crazy and a paralyzing terror overwhelms you. Your hands and feet start to experience an odd tingling sensation. You rock back and forth with your head in your hands - trying to force the terror to leave your mind, but it only gets worse...

This scenario is what a panic attack feels like. It is an affliction that affects an amazing one-third of the entire United States population.

** How do I know I'm having a Panic Attack? **

The signs of a Panic Attack are centered on the panic itself. This is one kind of an anxiety disorder that is medically defined by very sudden episodes of extremely severe feelings and symptoms.

A panic attack is only a disorder if there aren't any legitimate causes of the panic. For example - if someone is coming after you with a butcher knife, obviously panic is a perfectly normal and appropriate reaction. This rush of adrenaline will fuel your escape and can save your life - this is why the human body experiences panic, and why it produces adrenaline in response to that panic. Another reasonable cause of these symptoms would be medical illnesses that have symptoms that feel very much like a panic attack.

However - the disorder comes from a malfunction in that process. Your body and mind isn't functioning properly when panic and adrenaline are present and there is no stimulus that justifies it.

If you are feeling extremely anxious and fearful, and an overwhelming sense of impending crisis or doom completely overwhelms you - and there are no obvious environmental cause for those feelings - then this is a sign that you are experiencing a panic attack.

** Symptoms of a Panic Attack **

The symptoms that a person experiences during a panic attack are very specific and powerful. People who have suffered through at least one will recognize the symptoms the very moment that they start to occur - and the fear of "the next panic attack" can sometimes aggravate the effort to completely cure those attacks.

The attack will begin with sweating, difficulty breathing, dizziness, and other minor symptoms. These symptoms build, and within about two minutes, the panic attack will peak. At this point, the following symptoms are very severe:

* Racing heartbeat
* Very difficult to breathe - a feeling of suffocating
* Overwhelming terror and feeling like you're about to die.
* Nervous shaking
* Dizziness and lightheaded - sometimes with nausea
* Sweating, hot flashes, and chills
* Chest pain and sometimes choking
* Tingling in fingers and toes

These symptoms will usually last briefly, about ten minutes or so - but for people going through it, these ten minutes feel long and excruciating. As the symptoms fade, some linger longer than others and can take from thirty minutes to several hours to completely go away.

If you find yourself suffering from these symptoms often, rest assured - the disorder is very treatable. There is a wide array of treatment options available. Never accept that a panic disorder simply has to be a part of your life - seek help from your local doctor, who can help you get the treatment that you need to live free from panic attacks.
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