“It just comes over me, this feeling of dread and I know what’s about to happen…My heart starts beating so fast it feels like it will jump out of my chest, my palms get sweaty and I feel hot and dizzy. Sometimes it feels like I am going to pass out and that I will lose control because I am so anxious.”
“It feels like I am about to vomit or burst into tears when I have a panic attack, it’s hard to breathe and I feel like I am losing my mind. My anxiety is through the roof. I can’t stop it, I feel paralyzed to do anything about it. It comes on most when I am driving, so I have started avoiding going long distances in the car, or using highways.”
Above are some examples of what it may feel like to have a panic attack.
Anyone who has had a panic attack will probably describe it as intense fear and anxiety, accompanied by racing heart, faster breathing and a lightheaded or dizzy feeling or perception. There may also be a feeling of being in a dreamlike state and a fear that you are about to lose control. These symptoms typically come out of the blue, and in the absence of life threatening danger. How a panic attack feels in your body is unique to you, below you will find a clinical definition. Take a moment to read through it and see which of the symptoms you experience.
A Panic Attack is defined as:
A discrete period of intense fear or discomfort, in which four (or more) of the following symptoms developed abruptly and reached a peak within ten minutes (It may feel longer to you).
1. Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
3. Trembling or shaking
4. Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering, or difficulty breathing
5. Chest pain or discomfort
6. Nausea or abdominal distress
7. Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
8. Derealization (feelings of unreality)—feeling like you are in a dreamlike state
9. Depersonalization (being detached from oneself)—as though you are watching events happening around you from a distance
10. Fear of losing control or going crazy
11. Fear of dying
12. Numbness or tingling sensations
13. Chills or hot flashes
People often struggle with panic attacks for years without getting help. If you experience panic attacks regularly, or if you experiences just a few, but you dread having another one and/or have started avoiding situations due to your fear of panic, you may have Panic disorder. If you are looking for help with panic attacks in the Chicago area, Dr. Helen Odessky offers a unique rapid treatment for panic, give her a call at (847) 529-8600.