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Panic attack: A sudden episode of overwhelming fear without warning that triggers intense physical reactions.

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Many people have had at least one panic attack in their lifetime.

Panic attacks can occur “out of the blue” or when a person anticipates, or is exposed to, a particular trigger. Among the many contexts where panic attacks can occur are driving, sleeping, exercising, working, studying, or spending time with loved ones. Symptoms of a panic attack can resemble other medical issues such as a heart or lung condition, contributing to some people seeking emergency medical attention in response to an episode.

Man standing, leaning against a railing, with hand over his heart to indicate a panic attack

Panic attacks include some of the following symptoms:

  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
  • Pounding or racing heart
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath or feeling of choking
  • Sweating

  • Trembling or shaking
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Nausea or abdominal pain
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Feeling detached from self or surroundings

The symptoms of a panic attack usually peak after 10 minutes, and then begin to gradually subside. Following an attack, an individual may feel drained, exhausted, worried, and/or stressed.

Woman on a busy street covering her face because she's having a panic attack

Panic attack vs. panic disorder.

Panic attacks and panic disorder share many of the same emotional and physical symptoms. People who struggle with panic disorder have repeated panic attacks and often worry about having a future attack. To prevent this from happening, situations and places where previous panic attacks have occurred are usually avoided or met with dread. The experience of panic attacks does not always lead to the onset of panic disorder. Factors that are linked with an increased risk of developing panic attacks and panic disorder include: having an anxiety disorder, a family history of panic attacks or panic disorder, experiencing a major life event or trauma, and smoking or excessive caffeine use.

Panic attacks and panic disorder are serious and need to be treated.

Regardless of the cause, panic attacks and panic disorder can be successfully treated. When left untreated, both issues can severely impact a person’s quality of life.

Man on the floor of an elevator while holding on to the railing experiencing a severe panic attack

For example, some people who have panic attacks go on the experience panic disorder, and both issues are related to issues such as:

Counseling and therapy at Wellness Grove…

Our clinicians are competent in helping you better understand panic symptoms and take back control of your life. Psychotherapy is considered a first choice treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder. In instances when the preference is to combine psychotherapy with medication therapy, our clinicians will work alongside providers to ensure quality care.

Our in-person (outpatient) counseling services are offered in Canton OH (near Akron, North Canton, and Massillon). We also offer telemental health sessions to all Ohio residents.

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