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.