A panic attack is defined as the abrupt onset of intense fear that reaches a peak within a few minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms:
- a feeling of imminent danger or doom
- the need to escape
- heart palpitations
- shortness of breath or a smothering feeling
- a feeling of choking
- chest pain or discomfort
- nausea or abdominal discomfort
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- a sense of things being unreal, depersonalization
- a fear of losing control or "going crazy"
- a fear of dying
- tingling sensation
- chills or heat flush
Since many of the symptoms of panic disorder mimic those of illnesses such as heart disease, thyroid problems, and breathing disorders, people with panic disorder often make many visits to emergency rooms or doctors' offices, convinced they have a life-threatening illness. It often takes months or years and a great deal of frustration before receiving the correct diagnosis.
Many people suffering from panic attacks don't know they have a real and treatable disorder.
Screen yourself or a family member for panic disorder.