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Panic Disorder

The symptoms of a panic attack can be very frightening and distressing. Symptoms tend to occur very suddenly, without warning and often for no apparent reason.

As well as overwhelming feelings of anxiety, a panic attack can also cause the following symptoms:
  • A sensation that your heart is beating irregularly (palpitations)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Hot flushes
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • A choking sensation
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling faint
  • Numbness, or pins and needles
  • Dry mouth
  • A need to go to the toilet
  • Ringing in your ears
  • A feeling of dread, or a fear of dying
  • A churning stomach
  • A tingling sensation in fingers
  • Shivering
  • Shaking
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, which creates a cycle 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 are having a heart attack.

However, it is important to be aware that symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, or shortness of breath, will not result in you having a heart attack. Also, although a panic attack can often be frightening, it will not cause you any physical harm. People who have had panic disorder for some time usually learn to recognise this 'heart attack sensation', and become more aware of how to control their symptoms.

The symptoms of a panic attack usually peak within 10 minutes, with most attacks lasting for between 5 and 20 minutes. Some panic attacks have been reported to have lasted up to an hour. However, it is likely that the reason for this is due to one attack occurring straight after another, or high levels of anxiety being felt after the first attack.

Source: NHS Website