How Do I Know If I’m Having a Panic Attack?
I’ve had a surprising number of people ask me “How do I
know if I’m having a panic attack?”.
I have to admit that at first I though that was an unusual question – if you’re having a panic
attack, you’ll know it. I certainly did when I used to have them.
But then I realized that was I was wrong. It really is an important question for the reasons
I’ll discuss now.
You see, when someone is having a panic attack, the sense of anxiety, fear and terror is nearly
And severe physical sensations accompany these emotional feelings. These physical
symptoms naturally lead to a concern that the problem may be something other than panic.
As I list on Symptoms of Panic Attacks, a person
having an anxiety or panic attack may have rapid, pounding pulse, difficulty breathing, chest discomfort,
trembling, sweating and so forth.
These physical symptoms convince the person having the panic attack that something is physically
wrong with them.
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Even after they’ve been to their doctor several times and gotten second opinions from other
doctors, they still may feel that the doctors are missing something and that the cause is physical.
Part of this resistance to accepting the diagnosis of panic attack is that these are physical
symptoms and it’s hard to imagine a mental state could cause them.
Another reason people resist the diagnosis is the idea some have that if a condition is
psychological in nature that “it’s all in your head” and it somehow isn’t real.
Worse, insensitive people may respond to the diagnosis by thinking that the victim should just
be able to somehow decide not to have the attacks and “get over it”.
I know I struggled with those ideas and that response. It was no fun. When I wasn't afraid
another attack might be coming, I felt weak and like a failure. When some of my friends would tell me "Just get
over it.", I felt even worse.
The fact is, panic attack and panic disorder are real conditions that have definite diagnostic
criteria. We don’t know all the reasons why these conditions might develop, but we do know its not a failure of
personality. A person can’t simply decide not to have them.
Fortunately, there are good ways to treat panic attacks that have high rates of success.
So to return to the initial question (“How do I know if I’m having a panic attack?”), the answer
is check your symptoms against the diagnostic list, then see your
doctor. There are medical conditions that can cause symptoms like a panic attack and you need to be checked out
Once that’s been done, it’s reasonable to accept the diagnosis and focus on treating it.
The good news is that there are a lot of different treatments available today and you can pretty
much count on eventually being successful.
I talk about many treatments and some of my own experience on other pages. I hope the
information on this site helps you.
And believe me, I know that if you're suffering from panic attacks, it's not "all in your
I also know that if you've had even one panic attack you want to do whatever you need to to keep
from having one again. This site is here to help you do just that.
Panic Away is one of the best systems I found quickly free yourself from
panic attacks. You can read my Panic Away Review here,
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