What are the signs of a panic attack?
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Chills or heat sensations
- Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
- Fast beating, fluttering or pounding heart
- Fear of dying
- Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed or faint
- Feelings of choking
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Trembling or shaking
- Agoraphobia—marked fear or avoidance of two or more places or situations
- Caffeine or nicotine dependence—high doses of either substance may result in increased anxiety
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder—obsessions often leading to ruminations or brooding
- Phobias—fear of specific objects or situations
- Post-traumatic stress disorder—involves emotions from previous events affecting a current situation
- Separation anxiety disorder—fear of separation from attachment figures
- Social anxiety disorder—fear of social situations
Do I need to go to the emergency room if I have a panic attack?
What’s the difference between a panic attack and panic disorder?
- Worry about having panic attacks in the future.
- Avoid situations that might cause them to have a panic attack.
- Seek medical care at a clinic or Emergency Department when experiencing a panic attack.
Is there a test for panic disorder?
Can panic attacks be treated?
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. Usually, this is the first treatment offered for panic attacks and panic disorder. During cognitive behavioral therapy, you talk with a psychologist or counselor about your experiences and learn how to react to situations differently. This teaches you how to cope better with your feelings and overcome fears of situations you may have avoided because of panic attacks. In some cases, it is possible to participate in cognitive behavioral therapy virtually, such as meeting with a therapist online or through a video call, rather than in person.
- Medications. Medications can help reduce symptoms associated with panic attacks and depression. There are many options, and if one medication doesn’t work for you, your health care team may switch you to a different medication. All medications have a risk of side effects, so talk with your health care team about the best choice for your situation.
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