Panic attacks involve a brief, intense period of intense fear and discomfort. The person’s physical body is essentially going through its fight or flight response without an objective trigger for this response. The symptoms of a panic attack often develop abruptly and may include some of the following:
- Racing heart
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
- Shaking or trembling
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal discomfort
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Chills or hot flashes
- Feelings of unreality
In addition, some cognitive symptoms may also arise during a panic attack:
- Fear of losing control
- Fear of dying
- Fear of having a heart attack
- Anxiety about being in places from which escape might be difficult
Once an individual has a panic attack, they often fear having another one and try to avoid situations and physical sensations that they fear will trigger another attack. Fortunately, the skills necessary to manage and treat panic attacks can be learned. Treatment includes learning how respond to both the physical and cognitive symptoms of the anxiety and to not avoid situations that they fear may provoke another anxiety attack.
For Further Information:
Help for Panic Attacks
This site provides general information along with step-by-step suggestions for dealing with panic attacks. [Anxieties.com]
When Fear Seems Overwhelming
This booklet addresses the biology, source, and function of fear. It also addresses the faulty ways of dealing with fear and gives biblically-based suggestions on how to overcome it. [ODB Ministries]
Self-Calming Skills This article has a variety of tools, audios, etc.
Screen for Adult Anxiety Related Disorders (SCAARED)
This free, 44-item, screening inventory can be helpful in identifying several types of anxiety problems and directing individuals toward getting appropriate assistance to overcome it.
Mastery of Your Anxiety & Panic 4th Edition
Authors: David Barlow & Michelle Craske
This 209-page workbook provides a step-by-step guide for beating panic attacks and agoraphobia.
The Agoraphobia Workbook
Authors: C. Alec Pollard, Ph.D., Elke Zuercher-White, Ph.D.
This book addresses the many forms of agoraphobia and the fact that most people with agoraphobia are not complete shut-ins. Instead, they may have trouble walking outside alone for fear of feeling dizzy and falling down, or be afraid of driving on the freeway because they might faint, or avoid public venues for fear of losing physical or emotional control in a crowded place. Whatever form agoraphobia takes, it is a highly treatable and surprisingly common anxiety disorder.
Worried No More – Help and Hope for Anxious Children
Author: Aureen Wagner, Ph.D.
This 182-page book describes an effective way for parents, schools, and healthcare professionals to work collaboratively to help children cope with worry, school refusal, separation anxiety, excessive shyness, panic, disasters and tragedies, phobias, obsessions, and compulsions.