Panic attacks can strike at any time, often when you least expect them. They can be triggered by a stressful event, an undesirable interaction, or anxiety. People with panic disorder may experience repeated panic attacks without any obvious trigger.
While people often mistake a panic attack for a heart attack, panic attacks aren’t life-threatening. But because many of the symptoms overlap, it’s important to know when you may be having a panic attack instead of a heart attack so you can treat it accordingly.
Our mental health specialists at 2nd Chance Treatment Center in Phoenix, Glendale, and Gilbert, Arizona are experts in recognizing and treating panic disorder. We can help you learn to pinpoint the underlying cause of your panic attacks and develop ways to manage any anxiety and fear that may trigger them so you can avoid them in the future.
Here are five signs of a panic attack to watch out for.
1. Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
One of the telltale signs of a panic attack is suddenly feeling dizzy or lightheaded. You may feel like the world is spinning around you or like you’re having an out-of-body sensation.
We can teach you techniques to help you feel more grounded and centered when you feel a panic attack coming on so you don’t have these sensations.
2. Shortness of breath
When you’re experiencing a panic attack, you may feel like you can’t catch your breath. This can cause you to feel even more panic and anxiety and exacerbate your symptoms.
With panic disorder treatment, you can learn how to gain control over your breathing and alleviate this common panic attack symptom.
3. Chest pain
Chest pain is the panic attack symptom most commonly mistaken for a heart attack. When you experience panic or anxiety, the muscles in your chest may contract in response and cause pain. The pain is often so sharp and intense, you may think you’re having a heart attack.
If you’re not sure what’s causing your chest pain, it’s always a good idea to have it checked out by a medical professional. Your doctor may just let you know you had a panic attack and send you home, but you’ll have the reassurance of knowing your heart is fine.
4. Shaking or trembling
When you’re having a panic attack, you may start shaking or trembling uncontrollably. You may feel it in your arms, hands, legs, or feet. You may not even be aware that your body is trembling as it’s happening.
This sign of a panic attack is triggered by your body’s fight-or-flight response, which helps you stay safe in dangerous situations. Through therapy and meditation, we can help you experience better control over your body’s sensations.
5. Sense of impending doom
Panic attacks can make you feel like you’re going to die or something terrible is going to happen. As the attack intensifies, this sense of impending doom may also worsen.
Unless you’re actually in imminent danger, it’s important to know that this is just a sensation. We can help you learn to control your thoughts and behaviors when you experience a panic attack so you stay in the present and recognize that you’re going to be okay.
Panic attacks may be brief, or symptoms may linger, but no matter how long they last they can be a stressful experience that only worsens your anxiety. You may be so worried about having another panic attack that your anxiety skyrockets, or you turn to drugs or alcohol to help you cope.
The good news is that through the right type of therapy and medications, we can help you control your panic attacks. To find out more, call us at any of our locations, or book an appointment online today.