Symptoms with panic attacks
Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are characterized by acute development of several of the following anxiety attack symptoms reaching peak severity within 10 minutes:
- Escalating subjective tension
- Chest pain or discomfort, palpitations, "pounding heart", tachycardia
- Sweating, chills, or hot flushes
- Tremor or "shakes"
- Feeling of choking, smothering or shortness of breath
- Nausea, "butterflies", or abdominal distress
- Dizziness, feeling light headed or faint
- Derealisation, depersonalisation
- Paraesthesias (feelings like an ant crawling on your body)
- Feeling of dying, loss of control or "going crazy"
Note: Many of the similar symptoms can be caused by a heart attack. Panic attack and heart attacks can be difficult to distinguish.
Causes of panic attacks
Panic attacks are caused by parts of the brains which were developed very early, even in the reptiles which humans have been developed from. These reactions were critical to an animal's survival. Brain image experiments show that we react very different when encountering close and distant threats.
Threats at a close distance (5 ft) caused the panic attack symptoms described above, while threats at a larger distance (50 ft) caused more general anxiety feelings.