A panic attack is an exaggeration of your body’s normal response to fear, stress or excitement. It is the rapid build-up of overwhelming physical sensations, such as:
- a pounding heartbeat
- feeling faint
- nausea (feeling sick)
- chest pains
- feeling unable to breathe
- shaky limbs, or feeling like your legs are turning to jelly
- feeling like you’re not connected to your body
During a panic attack you might feel very afraid that:
- you’re losing control
- you’re going to faint
- you’re having a heart attack
- you’re going to die
When do panic attacks happen?
It’s different for different people. You might have a good understanding about likely situations or places that can trigger an attack for you, or you might feel that your attacks come without warning and happen at random.
Night time panic attacks
Panic attacks can also come in the night while you’re asleep, and wake you up. This can happen if your brain is very alert (due to anxiety), and interprets small changes in your body as a sign of danger.
Experiencing a panic attack during the night can be particularly frightening, as you may feel confused about what’s happening, and are helpless to do anything to spot it coming.
How long do panic attacks last?
Most panic attacks last for between 5 and 20 minutes. They can come on very quickly, and your symptoms will usually peak within 10 minutes.
Sometimes you might experience symptoms of a panic attack which last for up to an hour. If this happens you are probably experiencing one attack after another, or a high level of anxiety after the initial panic attack.
How often might I have panic attacks?
Again, it’s different for different people. You might have one panic attack and never experience another, or you might have attacks once a month or even several times each week.
What can I do about panic attacks?
Having a panic attack can be truly terrifying experience, but there are things you can do.
- For practical suggestions about how to manage anxiety and panic attacks, Follow link to Mind website