The symptoms of a panic attack can be very frightening and distressing.
Symptoms tend to occur suddenly, without warning and often for no apparent reason.
As well as overwhelming feelings of anxiety , a panic attack can also cause a variety of othersymptoms, including:
The physical symptoms of a panic attack are unpleasant, and they can also be accompanied by thoughts of fear and terror.
For this reason, people with panic disorder start to fear the next attack, whichcreates acycle of living in fear of fear and adds to the sense of panic.
Sometimes, the symptoms of a panic attack can be so intense they can make you feel like you're having a heart attack .
However, it's important to be aware that symptoms such as a racing heartbeat and shortness of breath won't result in you having a heart attack. Although panic attacks can often be frightening, they don't cause any physical harm. People who have had panic disorder for some time usually learn to recognise this 'heart attack sensation' andbecome more aware of how to control their symptoms.
Most panic attacks last for five to 20 minutes.Some attacks have been reported to have lasted up to an hour. However, it's likely that in these cases one attack occurred straight after another or high levels of anxiety were felt after the first attack.
People with panic disorder have panic attacks on a recurring basis. Some people have attacks once or twice a month, while others have them several times a week.
People with panic disorder also tend to have ongoing and constant feelings of worry and anxiety. The panic attacks associated with panic disorder can be very unpredictable.
If you have panic disorder, you may alsofeelanxious about when your next attack will be.
During a panic attack your symptoms can be so intense and out of your control that you canfeel detached from the situation, your body and your surroundings. It can almost feel as if you're an observer, making the situation seem very unreal.
This sense of detachment is known as depersonalisation. Being detached from the situation doesn't provide any relief or make a panic attack less frightening. Instead, it often makes the experience more confusing and disorientating.
Panic disorder is where you have recurring and regular panic attacks, often for no obvious reason.
The symptoms of a panic attack can be very frightening and distressing. They tend to occur very suddenly, without warning and often for no apparent reason.
As with many mental health conditions, the exact cause of panic disorder isn't fully understood.
Everyone who has panic disorder will experience panic attacks. However, not everyone who has panic attacks is diagnosed with panic disorder.
The main aim in treating panic disorder is to reduce the number of panic attacks and ease the severity of symptoms.
If you have panic disorder, there are several self-help techniques you can use including slow, deep breathing, relaxation techniques and visualisation.
Panic disorder is a treatable condition, but to make a full recovery it's very important you seek medical help as soon as possible.
Colin Hammond describes how panic attacks affected his life and became a series of phobias and anxieties, and how therapy helped his recovery.
Claire Ledger had her first panic attack while shopping in her local high street.