What are the symptoms of a panic attack?

symptoms of a panic attack

Physical Symptoms

Breathing speeds up
You may feel as though you can’t catch your breath, as you will be hyperventilating.
Dry Mouth
This is due to breathing quickly through your mouth.
Heart Rate
Heart rate increases to push the oxygen into your muscles.
Muscles Tighten
Your “fast twitch muscle fibres” are engaged to help you move and react quickly.
Pupils Widen
This allows more light into your eyes to ensure that you can see any potential danger clearly.
Digestion Slows Down
The blood that is being used for digestion is diverted to provide more oxygenated blood to your muscles so that they are ready for action.
Feeling Sick
Digestion is an unnecessary function when you are in danger. You may feel nauseous as your body attempts to empty the stomach. This helps to divert blood to the muscles and brain so that you are ready for action.
A sudden need to go to the toilet
This is to get rid of weight and unnecessary food that your body may be digesting.
A tingling sensation in your extremities
This may feel similar to ‘pins and needles’. This happens because you are breathing too quickly and your body has become flooded with excess oxygen.
Extra Strength
You will have more strength than normal from the adrenaline, which your body needs to fight the perceived danger.
Tight Chest
You may feel as though your chest is tight and/or your breathing is restricted. This is due to your chest muscles overworking.
This is because you are hyperventilating and too much oxygen getting into your blood, which in turn can also give you a sense of being disconnected from your body.
This is your body’s attempt to cool you so that you do not overheat when running away from danger.

How you may feel

  • Absolutely terrified.
  • Fear that you may die.
  • You may constantly ask “what’s happening to me?”
  • Fear that it may never end.
  • A claustrophobic feeling and the need to run away, or leave a situation or place without any understandable reason.
  • Fear that you are going mad.
  • Out of control.
  • You may feel a sudden urge to leave or run away from any social situation that you find yourself in.

This is because your body is being flooded with adrenaline, as you go into a “fight or flight” mode. Any feeling of being cornered or confined can make the symptoms worse.

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