Panic Attacks

Can Panic Attacks Kill You?

Micah Abraham, BSc

Written by

Micah Abraham, BSc

Last updated October 10th, 2020

Can Panic Attacks Kill You?

Panic attacks are immensely frightening events. While the anxiety is horrific, it's the physical symptoms that cause people the most distress, and in some cases can cause you to become hospitalized because the symptoms are so severe you're positive you're having a heart attack or something terrible.

Of course, then it all fades away. But every time you have a panic attack and you feel that rapid heartbeat and fear, you probably have wondered: can panic attacks kill you?

Dying From Anxiety

The idea of dying from anxiety is something that most people don't think is possible until they experience a panic attack. The symptoms are so severe that it is known to mimic other disorders. Even those who have had heart attacks, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis and more have stated that panic attacks are a dead ringer for those very same diseases.

It's easy to see why that fear exists, after all panic attacks cause:

  • Chest pains
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tingling fingers and hands
  • Lightheadedness
  • Trouble thinking
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feelings of faint

Perhaps the greatest issue is that the flood of anxiety that you get during a panic attack also causes a feeling of doom. You start to think: "this is it, I'm about to die" almost like you are faced with a terrible predator.

So can you die from a panic attack?

Thankfully, the answer is no.

Now, panic attacks aren't without their physical issues. They are extreme stress, and so if you do have a terrible heart condition, that stress can be dangerous. But these can easily be checked out by a doctor and ruled out as problems, and heart conditions simply do not develop overnight.

Hyperventilation can also make you come close to collapsing and fainting and blocks blood flow to your brain, and those with panic attacks while driving may find that they are so distracted by the attack that driving becomes more difficult.

But in general, a panic attack itself is not deadly, and despite living with stress (which can damage your body over time), there are no long term repercussions.

Panic Attacks Aren't Deadly, But They Should Be Treated

Even though panic attacks are not dangerous, they will always feel dangerous. Remember, the feeling of doom and concerns about your health are not just due to the physical symptoms - they're also symptoms of panic attacks. Even if you had no physical symptoms you'd still feel that feeling of impending doom because that's a symptom of this type of anxiety.

So no matter how many times you're told that your health is fine and that you're just experiencing panic attacks, you need to remember that until you cure your panic attacks you're going to have a hard time believing it. Going to the doctor helps, but the reality is that most people with panic attacks still worry that the doctor missed something, or that the panic attacks are going to cause their heart to explode, simply because the panic attack itself causes that feeling as a symptom.

You Need to Cure Your Panic

That's why it's so important to make sure that you cure your panic attacks, even though they're not dangerous. Living a life worried that something terrible is going to happen to you can get incredibly unpleasant in a big hurry. But if you stop your panic attacks, that worry will go away forever.

Questions? Comments?

Do you have a specific question that this article didn’t answered? Send us a message and we’ll answer it for you!

Ask Doctor a Question

Question:

Where can I go to learn more about Jacobson’s relaxation technique and other similar methods?

– Anonymous patient

Answer:

You can ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or other mental health professional who uses relaxation techniques to help patients. Not all psychologists or other mental health professionals are knowledgeable about these techniques, though. Therapists often add their own “twist” to the technqiues. Training varies by the type of technique that they use. Some people also buy CDs and DVDs on progressive muscle relaxation and allow the audio to guide them through the process.

Ask Doctor a Question

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