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?
How Severe is Your Panic?
If you feel like you are dying from panic, your panic attacks may be severe. Take our free 7 minute anxiety test to score your anxiety severity, compare it to others, and receive treatment ideas.
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 that have had heart attacks, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis and more have stated that panic attacks are a dead ringer for those very same diseases. Take my free 7 minute anxiety test to learn more.
It's easy to see why that fear exists, after all panic attacks cause:
- Chest pains
- Heart palpitations
- Tingling fingers and hands
- 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. Your entire body starts 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.
Take my anxiety test now to learn more. The test is 100% free, and provides you with a complete anxiety profile along with information on what you can do to keep your panic attacks away.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.