What Do Panic Attacks Feel Like?

Are You Experiencing Episodes Of Pain And Fear?

By Golden Recovery | Updated September 13th, 2021

Including professional and free resources at the bottom.

Aren't sure if what you're experiencing is panic attacks? Noticeable symptoms here, with free and professional resources!

For the purposes of this article we will assume you are not fully aware of what a panic attack is, but may be looking to find out for yourself or a love one.


If you're not sure what a panic attack looks like you can check out this blog post.

As a precursor, let me say I've been dealing with anxiety and panic attacks for over five years now. What you're experiencing may or may not be a panic attack, but this post will help anybody experiencing high levels of anxiety.


I am by no means a medical professional, I'm merely relaying my experiences. If you need immediate medical attention please seek a doctor.

Now, Let's Get Down To It

What Is A Panic Attack?

A panic attack is a sudden attack of exaggerated anxiety and fear.

Often, attacks happen without warning and without any apparent

reason. As we have discussed before, some people may

experience just one episode of a panic attack, while others can

have recurring episodes.


Recurring episodes usually happen after a person is exposed to

various events or situations that may "trigger" panic. While it is

generally harmless, panic attacks can severely disable a person

physically, emotionally and psychologically. In extreme cases,

panic attacks can lead to panic disorder.


Who Gets Panic Attacks?

The condition affects many people. It is believed that 10% of the

total population suffer from panic attacks, yet many are still

undiagnosed or under-diagnosed. They tend to occur more in

young adults. Women are twice as prone to have an attack as

men. It is also said that the condition is genetically inherited so

panic attacks may run in the family.


The Most Important Part: Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of panic attacks are similar to a heart

attack. The former isn’t dangerous, the latter can be deadly. It is

best therefore to seek for emergency medical help, especially if

the patient experiences it for the first time.


Keep in mind symptoms will be different for everybody.


- increased heartbeat or palpitation

- chest pain

- hyperventilation or shortness of breath

- upset or stomach churning stomach

- trembling and shaking

- muscle tension

- sweating

- dizziness and light-headedness

- hot or cold flashes

- tingling sensation or numbness

- fear of dying, going crazy or losing control

- feeling detached from the surroundings.


But What Actually Causes An Attack?

Many panic attacks happen without any apparent reason. They just

come out of the blue. However, attacks may be caused by past

traumatic experiences such as death of a loved one, family

conflicts, bad relationships, divorce of parents, car accident,

public humiliation, etc.


An attack may occur when a person is exposed to various events

or situations almost similar to the past that may "trigger" panic.


Stress is closely linked to panic attacks. Triggers include a

stressful life event as well as stressful working or living

environment.


So Should You Do During A Panic Attack?

Panic attacks peak from 5 to 10 minutes and rarely last for more

than half an hour. But during this time, you can experience

discomfort such as those signs and symptoms mentioned above.


Since increased heart rate is the main reason for experiencing

other symptoms, it is important to take control of your breathing

during an attack. Breathe slowly and deeply as you can. Breathe in

slowly for 3 counts then hold your breath for the next 3 slow counts.

Then, exhale for 3 slow counts.


Do this until you are calm. If you are able to stand, get up slowly

and walk around. It is also helpful to breathe into a plastic or a

paper bag. This allows you to re-breathe your carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide helps correct the blood acid level that had been

disturbed by excessive breathing.


While practicing deep breathing, try to focus your attention away

from the cause of panic. Replace your anxious thoughts with

happy ones. If available, do something that will occupy your mind

such as solving puzzles and playing word games.


An Important Addition For You: Awareness Of The Panic Loop

Usually people experiencing panic attacks feel a "loop." Essentially the more you experience these attacks, the more your anxiety increases, causing more attacks. It seems like a never ending cycle for some. However, the Panic Loop can be treated, see more on my Panic Loop post about the loop.


If you experience effects that last well after the attack has passed it is important to consult a health professional, so that you can be sure that there aren't any other underlying conditions that you should be aware of.

Understanding anxiety is the first step towards controlling the effect that it has on your life, so do your best to learn everything you can about how it can affect you.



Need Help Now? Free & Professional Resources!

When I was experiencing this the best thing I could do was talk about it. In the long run, trust me, it helps. I know that scheduling therapy is a pain in the ass, but if you have family and friends start there. If not the quickest resource I've found is Online Therapy.


They offer a full therapeutical toolbox that includes a 24/7 personal therapist via phone or online, activity plans, worksheets, journal, live chat, yoga, and more. Currently they even have a 20% discount here.


Panic Away has a free audio you can grab real quick for rapid relief. the most helpful technique I've ran into is the 21/7 technique developed by Panic Away's founder. It's built specifically to stop a panic attack in it's beginning stages. It's helped thousands of people, including myself.


Also, if you need somebody for talking purposes please feel free to use the message box and reach out. I will get back to you as soon as I possibly can!

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