What Are The Symptoms And Causes Of A Panic Attack?

Last updated by Katie M.

My heart beats faster and faster, my throat becomes dry, and breathing without feeling like I'm choking simply seems impossible. Whenever this happens, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m having a panic attack. "It's all in my head," you'll say to me. Yes, certainly, these episodes are no doubt due to my irrational thoughts and my mind working me up. Although they may be ridiculous and baseless, they are indeed hard to control. Here are the signs of a panic attack and the explanations as to what brings them on.

Contents:

'Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action' - Walter Anderson

How can I tell whether I'm having a panic attack?

These episodes come about suddenly, without really leaving you much time to understand the situation. The symptoms reach their maximum intensity in a few minutes, and the whole circus lasts on average 30 minutes. But the good news is that by becoming a regular sufferer, I've learned to recognize them by force of circumstance, and that's how today I see them coming.

Although these manifestations vary from person to person, or from attack to attack, they are always physical and mental, and can be categorized as follows:

>>> Discover the five main symptoms of anxiety

The main physical indications an episode has begun

  • Heart palpitations, when the rhythm of my heart accelerates and is closer to 100 beats per minute than the normal 60. It can also beat irregularly, this is what doctors call tachycardia.
  • A respiratory discomfort with a choking feeling. It's scientifically proven that when I panic, I inhale and exhale a lot of air quickly. As a result, I accumulate a lot of carbon dioxide and lack oxygen, hence the feeling of suffocation.
  • Chest pains. Because my whole body is tensing up.
  • Trembling or shaking muscles caused by repeated and involuntary contractions of my muscles, normal in case of fear.
  • Sweating, sometimes accompanied by chills, sometimes by hot flashes. This can be explained by the hormonal imbalance I am experiencing.
  • As in the case of intense stress, my stomach is knotted, and I feel pain in my lower abdomen.
  • This can go as far as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • My senses are also impaired: I notice that my vision is blurred, my throat is tight and a hive of bees seems to have taken up residence in my ears. My ears are buzzing and suffer from very disturbing tinnitus.
  • Finally, this loss of control can result in discomfort, dizziness, or vertigo.

>>> Check out the 10 most unusual phobias

What goes on in my head during this time?

When these episodes get underway, our heads are more likely to follow our body into a state of panic rather than reason with us and calm us down... This is what fuels this vicious cycle:

  • Fear of suffocation (since my breathing is impaired)...
  • Fear of fainting (due to dizziness)
  • The fear of having a heart attack (because, as a reminder, my throbbing is freewheeling)
  • Fear of going crazy (I can't control anything and I can't reason with myself).
  • Fear of dying

>>> Discover the perfect morning routine for anxiety

What brings these attacks on?

Although they come on quickly, panic attacks don't happen by chance. They are often provoked by a period of high anxiety and stress. Discover the follow common triggers:

  • If I am a subject with anxious terrain, in other words, if in everyday life, anxiety, and nervousness characterize me. The stress by which I easily let myself be carried away opens the door to these attacks.
  • If it’s a reaction to a threat, real or interpreted as such. The fact that I feel helpless in the face of the situation causes this loss of self-control.
  • Quite simply, if I have consumed large quantities of products such as coffee or cigarettes.
  • It can be associated with a phobia, if the situation that caused me this panic echoes one of my deepest fears.
  • If it makes me relive a trauma, such as an accident, or a sudden break-up.
  • If I am experiencing depressive disorders.
  • If I'm in a situation where the fear of dying and not being rescued is strong.

>>> Discover the effects stress has on our skin

Editor's opinion - You can't die from a panic attack.

"It's true that a panic attack mimics a serious physical problem," explains Dominique Servant, head of the stress and anxiety unit at Lille University Hospital. Chest pain, dizziness, difficulty breathing...". It feels like we're going to die, but it's a false alarm, there's no medical cause. "So when the crisis comes, think about it, and avoid falling into the vicious circle of panic.

To do this, our expert advises breathing slowly and deeply so as not to hyperventilate. There are indeed many ways to manage a panic attack, from soft music, to meditation, to visualization! You will soon find the right one.

🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... Let’s do it here and now!

#BornToBeMe

Discover the following articles:

Article presented by Katie M.

Discover the world through my eyes.

Read our latest articles here:

Who Are We?

Want to know who's behind Wengood? A team of passionate people in search of wellness. Here, we share with you our stories, our trials and tribulations and our advice to help you move forward on the path towards serenity.

Lauren Hart - Editor

I have always loved to write, since the dawn of the Internet. For as long as I can remember, I have been blogging about my life, sorrow, and joys.

4 Tips For Learning To Love Yourself: Say Goodbye To Self-Belittlement!

“I’m ugly”, “I’m not good enough”, “I'm not capable of doing anything”, these are thoughts we've all had, it's fair to say at times we can be our own worst critics. That being said, when we don't like ourselves and how we are, it can be difficult to embrace a good sense of self-esteem, which makes the road to appreciating ourselves even rockier. However, this is the key to achieving fulfillment and equilibrium. By learning to love ourselves, we will be able to feel good, both in our bodies and minds.

How To Make New Friends

Remember in middle school when you got close to that girl with pigtails, asked her if she wanted to be your best friend, and the next thing you know, you became BFFs? What a sweet moment that was, but, if only things remained that easy 30 years later. As an adult, it’s so much more difficult to make new friends, and often find it impossible to find the courage needed to approach people. If you want to expand your social circle, we have 6 pieces of advice to help you along the way!

Why Do I Always Feel Guilty?

Are you the type of person who constantly feels the need to apologize without having done anything wrong? Would you for example feel bad about being late to a meeting if your car broke down on the way? Do things that are totally out of your control make you feel terrible about yourself? We all perceive guilt differently, and some of us are far more susceptible to feeling culpable than others. We reveal where this tendency comes from and what you can do to learn to shake it off. It's time you freed yourself from these self-imposed shackles of guilt!

10 Secrets To Successful Relationships

Stories of couples who spend their whole lives together seem like distant fairy tales nowadays. With the rise of dating apps and a shift in the idea of what constitutes a traditional relationship; the word long-term almost sounds foreign to many of us. Being in love isn't always simple, but when it works out, it's worth all the hard work. Being the romantic souls that we are, we wanted to share with you the recipe for a long-lasting and harmonious relationship. After all, who doesn't want to experience what their grandparents did? Discover the best tips for a happy and healthy love story.

Are You Scared Of Success?

Amid the fear of failing hides another fear that is less often spoken about, and that's the fear of succeeding. Doing well isn’t necessarily the key to happiness, that’s why there may be times when we fear it. Although it might seem strange, when we start to achieve our personal goals, we open ourselves up to a wave of new emotions that aren't exactly always easy to deal with. When we are caught off guard by our results, we often go into panic mode and struggle with this concept, however that's not to say we should let this hold us back.

Self-Love Checklist

Life can be a bit of a rollercoaster, and whilst I'm sure we'd all agree that at times we are lucky enough to experience dizzying highs, at other points, we all go through gut-wrenching lows that really do bring us crashing down. Feeling good about ourselves 365 days a year is certainly a big ask, but it's definitely not impossible, and I'm proof of that! Psst, lean in, I want to let you into a secret! Whenever I'm feeling down or when my anxiety spins out of control, I take a look at my self-love checklist for inspiration and decide that it's time to make myself feel better about things.

Teaching Men To Be More Emotionally Honest

As a self-confessed emotional sponge and anxiety sufferer, I've always found men's unwillingness to deal with their emotions surprising. I've always had a turbulent relationship with my emotions, however, over the years, I've learned that introspection and honesty have helped me to deal with them effectively. Men, on the other hand, typically have a tougher time opening up and taking the time to understand what they feel, but although it may seem difficult, acknowledging their fears, anxieties, and dreams will catapult them to the ultimate stage of happiness.

Wengood's favorite tunes 🎵

How to detect a narcissist


"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." 

- Oscar Wilde


How to soothe an anxiety attack