A panic attack can be really scary and is characterized by a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes and come on without any warning. Although panic attacks are not life-threatening, in some cases, the overwhelming fear can be so intense that the individual might think they are suffering a heart attack or another health condition they may not survive.
People who experience panic attacks have expressed feelings of impending doom, feeling like they are in danger, feelings of going insane and even feelings of death. During an episode one may experience dizziness, express feeling disconnected from their bodies, along with a rapid heartbeat, hot flashes, trembling and an upset stomach. Most go to the emergency room when they first experience these symptoms thinking that there’s something physically wrong with them, only to discover their symptoms are psychological in nature.
Most people will experience one or two panic attacks in their lifetime and there are a number of contributing factors. Things like tragic events, stressful jobs, traumatic memories, chronic health conditions, untreated anxiety and even public speaking can all spark panic attacks. Though panic attacks are NOT dangerous, they can be so terrifying that a person may live in constant fear of when the next panic attack will occur, thereby developing panic disorder, if not effectively treated.
The good news is that panic attacks are 100% treatable and once you learn to rewire your brain in a way that increases trust in your ability to handle the sensations of a panic attack, knowing that it is not dangerous and will pass, you will no longer be afraid of them. When the fear of panic decreases, so do the panic attacks. Be sure to check out our five tips for overcoming panic attacks.