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Panic attacks symptoms involve more than a sudden outburst of fears. Some people will experience trembling, palpitations, numbness, nausea, stomach discomfort and many other signs we will discuss further. Although they might last a couple of minutes it feels like long hours. The intensity and frequency of the symptoms vary from one individual to another. For example, my husband felt nauseous and palpitations but I felt like I was going crazy. Others might experience tight chest, hot flashes or even dizziness. A great way to control them is to breathe deeply, learn relaxation techniques, recognize the symptoms, and distract your mind. You can check our article “Can you overcome panic disorder? We can help you!” here.
We will discuss the different panic attacks symptoms and share useful suggestions on how to beat them to prevent a full-blown panic attack.
If you are having the symptoms and need help to stop them, then you are in the right place. If we were able to defeat the symptoms, so can you!
Panic attack signs and what to do about them
The worse part of a panic attack is trying to stop the symptoms. Although we may think they take forever to go away, they may last from 5 to 60 mins. The good news is that once you start confronting them they will gradually disappear over time.
Keep in mind that if you are not sure what is causing your symptoms it is best to go to a doctor to ensure they are not caused by any other health conditions.
If your doctor suspects you had a panic attack you may be referred to a mental health specialist. Besides, you may be told to take medication or seek psychological therapy.
Here are the 10 most common panic attack symptoms and how you can stop them before it gets really bad. Whether you decided to follow a treatment or not you can put this information to good use:
This is one of the most common signs of a panic attack. You will feel like your heart rate is soaring, racing and pounding abruptly. For some, the heartbeats can be felt in the neck, ears, and chest. They may only last a couple of minutes but it is a very uncomfortable sensation.
How to lower them? If they are caused by panic attacks you can practice your breathing as explained here. Breathing slowly and deeply will definitely help normalize them. Also, you can count or distract your mind doing your favorite hobby. Focusing on your breathing is better than thinking about your palpitations.
It is a frozen feeling anywhere on your hands, legs, face, and other parts during a panic attack episode. Also, you may feel a tingling sensation which feels like a light burning or pins-and-needles.
How to deal with it? Massaging the area and/or applying hot compress will help the blood circulate in these areas. Also, applying cold water on your wrist and arms can be helpful.
You can experience discomfort or pain. Sometimes you can feel your stomach beating. Some people have nausea and may vomit but most won’t. Eventually, they will all go away.
How to calm your stomach? Have a warm tea such as lemon or chamomile which can soothe and relieve the discomfort. Always find a moment to relax. Also, a warm compress may work.
Fear of being sick or going crazy
When you suffer a panic attack you’ll feel like losing control because of an increase in stress levels and that is when the adrenaline hormone is released. You might feel fear of going crazy or having an illness. It’s a very debilitating feeling and is very difficult to deal with.
How to manage this feeling? Switch negative thoughts with positive ones. Also, distract your mind and do something you like.
This is one of the panic attack symptoms that we find very scary. Your breathing may be heavy and shallow. Also, you may try to inhale in the upper chest instead of filling your abdomen with air. Because you are not bringing enough oxygen to your lungs you will experience dizziness and hyperventilation. You may also feel a choking sensation like your throat is closing up which can lead to even more panicky feelings.
How to improve your breathing? Normal breathing should consist of inhaling, holding it, exhaling, holding it. It is a natural and controlled rhythm. Watch a baby breathe and you will learn the correct way to do it! To help you breathe deeper and better check out our article How can I stop panic attacks naturally and fast. In addition to practicing your breathing, warm compress on the chest helps to loosen your muscle and improve breathing ability.
You may feel lightheaded, weak, and may even faint. This may make you feel even more worried which will worsen your panic attack.
How to manage this symptom? You can sit down or lie on your bed. Focus on your breathing and close your eyes.
Shivering or trembling sensations can be felt during a panic attack. Like the other symptoms, this is a response that prepares you to either escape or to fight an imminent danger. Keep in mind that you may not be in any real danger but your body will react that way when feeling an uncontrollable and intense attack of fear.
How to get rid of them? You can have a relaxing and warm tea such as chamomile. Also, try to breathe deeply to relax your body.
When you are very stressed, anxious or panicky it is normal to sweat. It can be felt either hot or cold. It is uncomfortable and embarrassing especially if you are at work or in a public place.
How to stop your sweating? Although the symptoms will go away after a couple of minutes, keep yourself hydrated, and practice relaxation techniques explained here.
Temporary high blood pressure
Your BP may go up during a panic attack. This is very frightening and can make you feel even more anxious. I experienced HBP during my panic attacks but I was able to defeat it.
How to lower your BP? Focus on your breathing and on positive thoughts. Our article “How to stop obsessing over your blood pressure forever“ will help fight your constant worries about your blood pressure and easy to follow suggestions on how to normalize it.
When stress levels are very high our breathing gets shallow and heavier which may lead to bad posture and will contribute to chest discomfort. That’s why it could be easily mistaken for a heart attack.
How to ease the discomfort? Stretching your pectoral muscles will help relax and relieve the area. Also, improving your posture will work wonders. In addition, learn more tips and chest stretching exercises in our post Can you overcome panic disorder? We can help you! to help relieve the symptoms.
Heart attack vs panic attack
Every time we speak about panic attacks we have to mention heart problems. Why? Not only because they may be related but also their symptoms are very similar.
That is why if you are having a panic attack for the first time we strongly advise you to consult a doctor or to go to a hospital even if you have never had heart problems. This will help you find out what was causing them and eliminate any doubts.
If you have had a heart attack before and you feel the symptoms then a trip to the emergency room is the best option.
Now, how to distinguish between the two? Panic attack symptoms last a couple of minutes while the heart attack signs last more and get worse. Another way to know the difference is that you may feel pain during a panic attack. However, crushing chest pain can be an uncomfortable pressure or squeezing sensation that can radiate to the arms, abdomen, jaw, and other areas in a heart attack.
Also, heart attacks may occur after some physical exertion. However, you may feel the panic attack symptoms even when you are lying in bed or sitting. To learn more about heart attacks symptoms please go to this American Heart Association link.
What is the next step if you are not sure?
Now you know that heart attack and panic attack symptoms are very similar. If you cannot distinguish between both you will need to seek medical assistance. I went through this but it was comforting to know that all my tests came fine.
It is very important to be very specific and honest with your doctor about how you feel. Also, answer her/his questions providing as much information as you can. Make yourself heard to help your doctor make the right diagnosis.
It is crucial to listen to our bodies and if you are not familiar with the symptoms, go to the ER immediately. It may not be as bad as we think but it is better to be safe than sorry.
B.L.A. is a web developer/designer and writer who enjoys country life in western Pennsylvania, USA along with her husband C.C.A, who is also a contributor, co-author, and editor.
Check out their other blog SmartAroundyourWrist.com.