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Panic attacks are brief episodes of extreme fear. They may be mistaken for heart attacks or strokes but are actually psychological rather than physical. Panic attacks can occur suddenly and usually peak within ten minutes. Most panic attacks end within 20 to 30 minutes.
How to recognize a panic attack
Panic attacks vary by person. For some people, they are quite intense and for others they may be significantly uncomfortable but manageable. Common symptoms include:
- Chills or sweating
- Racing thoughts
- Rapid or pounding heartbeat
- Chest pain or tightness
- Difficulty breathing (hyperventilation or holding breath)
- Feelings of suffocating
- Shaking, shivering, or tingling
- Feeling of unreality or detachment
Understanding the cause
Sometimes panic attacks are isolated incidents, but if a person has had at least two panic attacks and lives in fear of having another, they may have panic disorder. A panic attack can happen without an obvious cause, but people with panic disorder may develop phobias related to something they associate with panic attacks, including open spaces, and large crowds.
The Benefits of therapy
Panic disorder is classified as an anxiety disorder, and like other forms of anxiety, it is commonly treated with a combination of therapy, medications, and healthy lifestyle changes. Anxiety patients are also encouraged to do breathing exercises, get regular exercise, and to avoid stimulants. Our therapists can work with clients to retrain their minds and bodies to relax during a panic attack and develop ways to prevent them from happening.