Panic attacks trigger the fight-or-flight response, which can cause a wide variety of different symptoms and signs that distinguish them from those of the same heart attack.
A panic attack isn’t an occasional jitter, it’s more like pure hell. It appears, knocks the ground out from under your feet, and you can’t get rid of it. Unless softened.
Read also: Words you should never say to someone with panic attacks
A panic attack activates the “fight or flight” reaction, as well as a real cacophony of various sensations — psychological and physical. And they are absolutely unpleasant. For example – fear of death, discomfort, feeling that there is not enough air in the lungs. A person during a panic attack often begins to feel as if he is losing his mind or even dying.
It is so unpleasant that people often hide these episodes, fearing that the environment will look askance at them. Usually, due to a lack of awareness of this condition, a person begins to think that he is ill — for example, he perceives a panic attack as a heart attack. Their symptoms are often quite similar. But with panic attacks, you need to do one thing — get a consultation from a mental health specialist.
Here’s how to understand that you’re having a panic attack.
Read also: Action plan: what to do if you have a panic attack
1. Pain in the stomach
There is nothing surprising here, we have already written that anxiety can be felt in the body. For example, in the neck, chest and, of course, in the stomach. Stress and anxiety significantly affect the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in nausea, indigestion, and abdominal pain.
2. Trying to avoid situations that cause similar symptoms
A person who has experienced a panic attack once tries to avoid this situation by all means. And, of course, he tries to avoid situations in which similar symptoms appear. For example, they stop playing sports in order not to feel an accelerated heartbeat.
But the fact remains the fact: a person only goes deeper into these feelings and turns life into an endless race from the symptoms of the problem.
3. Feeling of exhaustion after
People suffering from panic attacks quickly exhaust the resources of their psyche and body, which the body uses to protect itself from a danger that does not even exist. After a panic attack, a person feels simply broken and destroyed.
4. A panic attack comes quickly
You sit and sit, everything is fine, you are in a good mood, and then a full-on slipper comes: it seems that death is near, the heart beats like crazy, there is not enough breath. A panic attack hits you unexpectedly, during this state, hormones are released, breathing speeds up, and sugar levels rise. And it is very tangible. You won’t miss a panic attack if it starts.
5. There is usually no obvious trigger
A panic attack occurs as a reaction to some perceived threat. But what causes panic attacks? Still unknown. A big role is played by genetics, as well as the environment in which a person currently lives. If you’ve been under stress for a long time, you’ll probably experience a panic attack at some point.
6. Tingling, numbness in hands
Panic attacks usually cause a feeling of numbness in the limbs, tingling. In some complex cases, pseudoconvulsions also occur — this is a serious symptom.
7. Feeling as if a person is outside the body
During a panic attack, you can feel as if you are out of body, foreign to your own body, experience, and reality. The feeling is very similar to what you experience in a dream.
Read also: If you notice these 10 symptoms, seek help immediately
8. Sweating, chills
Along with a panic attack comes increased sweating or chills. This is caused by a surge of adrenaline that causes blood to rush to the extremities. A person is thrown into the heat, and then he begins to sweat to cool his body.
9. Feeling of lack of air
Stress hormones are released, muscles tighten and contract, including in the throat and chest area. Therefore, there is a feeling of lack of air.
10. It is short-lived
A panic attack often peaks about 10 minutes before symptoms begin to subside. Over time, a person can understand that nothing terrible and dangerous is happening.
11. Looks like a heart attack
A frequent or strong heartbeat is not only a symptom of a heart attack, but also a symptom of a panic attack. That is why, during the first such attack, a person may begin to think that something is wrong with his heart. In addition, a panic attack is often accompanied by chest pain and discomfort. It only deepens confidence.
But in the hospital they usually find nothing, at most — soon the bad feelings soon begin to disappear and the person feels normal again. It’s very disturbing when you don’t know what happened.
Read also: 9 platforms that provide free psychological help
12. It becomes difficult to catch your breath
Shortness of breath and hyperventilation are signs that you may be having a panic attack. This is a universal symptom.
Many people report feeling dizzy when they have a panic attack. They are often afraid of falling, losing consciousness. When these feelings arise, a person usually sits with his head between his legs.
14. Feeling of doom, approaching death
This is probably the worst of the panic attack, although all the other symptoms are also just awful. During a panic attack, it seems to a person that he is going crazy, losing his mind and control over himself, or even dying right here and now. That is why people are so afraid of repeating panic attacks.
And what to do during a panic attack, read here: Action plan: what to do if you have a panic attack