For some people, the simple act of walking down the street can feel like an ordeal. At any moment, they may experience a sudden onslaught of symptoms — from breathlessness to heart palpitations — that transform their normal day into a nightmare. Because this condition can apparently strike at random, it's wise to know the signs of a panic attack.
As one may assume, panic attacks stem from a panic disorder, which is completely driven by feelings of fear. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, panic disorder is characterized by recurring panic attacks that seem to occur out of nowhere. Worrying about potential future panic attacks can create even more anxiety, so the person suffering from panic disorder is left in great distress. It's a cruel cycle.
Though it seems scary, the disorder is not terribly uncommon. According to the University of Florida's Fear and Anxiety Disorders Clinic, about 2.4 million Americans deal with a panic disorder in any given year, with young adult women being the most vulnerable population. Whether the tendency toward panic disorder is environmental or inherited, one thing is clear: it's a rough road to travel. With that in mind, it's smart be on the lookout for these symptoms of a panic attack so you, your family members, or your friends don't have to suffer in silence.
1You Have An Intense Fear
Fear is at the root of most every panic attack. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, persons suffering from a panic attack may feel an overwhelming sense of fear and doom. Basically, your body acts like the world is about to end, even if your brain knows it isn't.
2You Have Trouble Breathing
One of the most obvious signs of a panic attack is found in the breath. Breathing difficulties are a common symptom of panic attacks, as explained in WebMD. You might feel like you can't catch your breath, for instance.
Feeling out of control of your body is another common side effect of panic attacks. For example, you might tremble or shake uncontrollably, as explained in Very Well. Your hands and feet in particular may appear to take on a life of their own.
Your body may use even more signs of distress as a part of the panic response. In fact, excessive sweating may occur during a panic attack, even if you don't feel particularly warm, as further explained by Very Well. It's more about your stress response than your environment in this instance.
5You Have A Rapid Heart Rate
Did your fitness monitor show a sudden spike in your heart rate? A fast or irregular heartbeat may be the result of a panic attack, according to WebMD. Actually, it isn't uncommon for people to mistake a panic attack for a heart attack, as further explained by WebMD. This goes to show that having a panic disorder is a serious affliction indeed.
6You Suffer Stomach Troubles
For many people, feelings of anxiety and stomach troubles go hand-in -hand. This is not an exception for persons with a panic disorder. Anything from bloating to general stomach pain may occur during a panic attack, as explained by Calm Clinic. What's worse, long-term stress may even lead to ulcers.
7You Feel Tension
Can't relax? It's a terrible sensation. And according to Psych Guides, experiencing feelings of tension is another potential sign of panic attacks. It's like your body refuses to unwind.
8Your Sleep Is Disrupted
With all of the aforementioned symptoms, it's no surprise that persons who suffer from panic attacks might have difficulty getting enough shut-eye. And, as further noted by Psych Guides, an inability to sleep is another common sign of panic attacks. All of that pain, tension, and general worry are not conducive to sleep at all.