Panic attacks can strike out of the blue without warning and make you feel miserable. They can occur at any time of the day and may even occur during the night while you are sleeping. The person who is experiencing a panic attack may feel that they are in serious danger of harm or death. Many people feel that they are having a heart attack because many of the symptoms mimic those of a heart attack.
Fortunately, panic attacks usually only last a few minutes and, even though the symptoms feel intense, they are not as serious as they feel. Once you have experienced a panic attack chances are that you will be able to recognize the symptoms the next time you have one.
You may ask the question, "How can you tell if you are having a panic attack?" There are actually several ways to tell that you are having a panic attack and not something more serious. You may feel anxious and experience great fear. This fear may lead you to believe that you are in imminent danger. If you take a moment to look around you chances are you will discover that things around you are normal. This is a good indication that what you are feeling is a panic attack.
Your heart may start racing and pounding in your chest. Your heart rate may even increase for a few minutes. This can be a scary situation because heart problems can be dangerous and life threatening. When this happens to you it is important that you try to relax and get your heart rate down to normal. If your heart rate does not return to normal in a few minutes then either you should become more concerned.
You may suddenly feel weak, dizzy, or fee like you are going to faint. This is a common symptom of a panic attack so you may just need to sit down and relax for a few minutes until this passes. Recognizing that these symptoms are only temporary will help you determine what the symptoms are.
You may feel a tingling or numb sensation in your hands, fingers, and feet. This also is a common symptom associated with panic attacks. This is usually caused by sudden anxiety that temporarily restricts blood vessels. When blood flow is restricted you may feel the tingling sensation that is common with panic attacks.
You may suddenly have trouble breathing. It is important to remember that this is only in your mind and there is no physical reason that you can not breath. As you begin to relax you will soon discover that your breathing also returns to normal.
You may feel chest pain or chest fullness. Chest pain can indicate a serious condition but there are differences in real chest pain caused by heart problems. Chest pain that is caused by heart problems are often accompanied by left arm pain or pain in the shoulder area. The pain will not go away unless relaxation if it is caused by a heart condition. Chest pain that is the result of a panic attack will not respond to nitrates such as nitroglycerin given to those suffering a heart attack. Panic attack chest pains will also subside in a few minutes.
If you experience these symptoms then it is a fair assumption that you are having a panic attack. The good news about this is they are usually brief and with understanding you can learn to control them.