Ever wonder if you are having a panic attack, but aren’t sure? There are many symptoms of a panic attack which, by themselves, may seem unrelated to anxiety. Some are physical symptoms, while others involve your thoughts. When both kinds are combined together they could be indicators of a panic attack.
Physical Symptoms of a Panic Attack
There are several physical symptoms that you might experience when having a panic attack. According to the Mayo Clinic, these can include:
- Chest pain
- Shaking and/or trembling
- Trouble breathing: shortness of breath or chest tightness
- Hot flashes
- Stomach cramps
- Tingling or numbness
- Increased heart rate
Some of these symptoms are fairly common. Everyone gets a headache now and then,certainly you sweat after exercise. However, if these symptoms occur after a triggering event, they could be a sign of something more.
Mental Symptoms of a Panic Attack
Your physical symptoms may correspond to uncomfortable thoughts or feelings when you have a panic attack. Again, the Mayo Clinic suggest the following may occur:
- Fear of losing control.
- Fear of death.
- Thoughts of imminent danger.
- Feeling detached.
Perhaps the most important theme to take away is that of fear. Panic attacks occur because you believe that you are in danger, which triggers a fear response. This happens even though, in reality, there is nothing to be afraid of. Additionally, you may experience a triggering event which causes fear, and then feel even more afraid because you are being triggered.
An Example of Panic Attack Symptoms
Scott Stossel, an author and writer for The Atlantic, writes in detail about his lifelong struggle with anxiety and experiencing panic attacks. One of his biggest fears is vomiting, which is also called emetophobia, which is a fear he has had since childhood. This spreads to other fears that are associated with throwing up, such as aerophobia (fear of airplanes/flying) and also aeronausiphobia (fear of throwing up while flying). He describes the feelings of fear regarding vomiting, how it leaves him frozen in terror, and how it affects his life, such as when he does public speaking events. He talks about:
- Worries about his health, money, becoming old, dying.
- Having headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, pain in extremities, and feeling ill.
- Experiencing trouble breathing and swallowing due to anxiety.
Treating the Symptoms of Panic Attacks
The way to address the symptoms of panic attacks is to find the root cause. By discovering the basis of fear for the panic attacks, you can begin to address the symptoms. Some ways this can be done include:
- Asking yourself some hard questions as to what triggers your anxiety.
- Consulting with a therapist who can use cognitive behavioral therapy to work with you to find the root cause of your anxiety in a logical way.
- Participating in exposure therapy, where you are gradually introduced to your fears and then talk with the therapist about what you felt.
- Using hypnotherapy to allow you to be open to suggestions to treat your anxiety.
- Making life changes that can have a positive impact on your overall health, such as diet and exercise.
A therapist trained in the treatment of anxiety can help you to form a diagnosis anddevelop a treatment strategy to beat your panic attack symptoms.
Having a panic attack can be frustrating. It may leave you feeling powerless and unable to control your life. There is hope, however. Anxiety is a condition that can be treated using a combination of techniques. With help, you can live a life free of panic attack symptoms.
Questions, Concerns, Thoughts?
I invite you to call me for a free 15 – minute phone consultation to discuss your specific needs and to answer any questions you have about anxiety, treatment and my practice. Please visit my website @ www.theanxietydocseattle.com or call me directly @ (206) 745-4933.