Am I Having a Panic Attack? Signs, Symptoms

A panic attack can feel scary and overwhelming, especially if you’ve never had one before. In many ways, panic attack symptoms feel like heart attack symptoms, but they are not life threatening at all. Recognizing that you are having a panic attack will put your mind at ease, making the symptoms go away faster. Here are some signs of a panic attack.

Accelerated Heart Rate

This is the panic attack symptom that scares people the most. The rapid heart rate (your heart feels like it’s racing) may be combined with chest pains or heavy heartbeats. You suddenly become aware of your heart beating in your chest, which creates an uneasy feeling. If you control your breathing like we discuss in the second half of this guide, your heart rate will return to normal.

Difficulty Breathing

A panic attack can make it difficult to breathe. Throughout the day, your brain sends signals to all areas of your body to breathe, blink, move, etc. In an anxiety attack, your brain gets a little preoccupied. You need to focus on breathing to help your body calm down. Breathe in and out slowly, and focus on every breath you take. Soon your breathing will stabilize, and your panic will begin to subside.

A Feeling of Terror

Panic attack symptoms are similar to what you may experience in a hunted house or alone in the woods. There is a sense of impending doom, even if you are in a completely safe environment. Your fight or flight response gets triggered, and you feel the need to escape from your situation.

Sweating, Dizziness and Weakness

The sudden burst of panic may cause you to sweat or get the chills. It may also cause you to feel dizzy or weak. Think of the feeling you had the last time you caught a bad cold or the flu. Your mind felt foggy, your body temperature seemed beyond your control…it may have even felt like an out of body experience. This is similar to what you might go through during a panic attack. Once again, the feelings will go away once the panic attack is over.

Feeling out of Control

All of the panic attack symptoms above can make you feel like you are not in control of your mind and body. When the world around you seems far out of your control, you at least have comfort knowing you control your body. Now, that control seems like it is temporarily taken away from you. That is why it is important to learn how to stop and prevent a panic attack. You are in control of your body, and you always will be. You just need the skills to recognize the power you already have.

Continue to Part 2 to learn about Panic Attack Treatment and Prevention.

    Welcome Medical Psychology Center Patients!
    We are excited to announce that Medical Psychology Center of Beverly, MA has officially merged with Family Counseling Associates effective 4/19/2024. We look forward to continuing to provide mental health care to Medical Psychology Center's existing patients and the Beverly community!