Panic Attacks
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Panic Attack Symptoms and Panic Disorder

Victoria LeBlanc, MS, LCPC
Panic Attack Symptoms and Panic Disorder

Panic attacks can be debilitating events - so extreme in their symptoms that those suffering may believe they're suffering from something far worse than an anxiety disorder. In fact, panic attacks often mimic very serious health problems, including:

Thousands of people are hospitalized every year after their first or most severe panic attack, believing that something very serious is happening. Many believe that they're about to die.

But the truth is that these people are simply suffering from a panic attack - a rush of anxiety so extreme that it causes severe physical symptoms.

Causes of Panic Attack Symptoms

One of the first questions people ask is why something like anxiety can cause these types of symptoms. After all, it's not the anxiety that makes panic attacks unbearable - it's the very real, physical sensations that give the impression something is very wrong with your health. 

Panic attacks are very complex, and not all of the causes are known. Some of the reasons for having a panic attack may be:

Finally, another issue that affects those with panic attacks is hypersensitivity. This occurs when you experience a normal (or close to normal) sensation, and it "feels" much worse. For example, experiencing a normal amount of leg pain but feeling as though your leg is in a great deal of pain. This is common for those with panic disorder.

Panic Attack Symptoms

Panic attacks can cause a variety of symptoms. Some people feel like they can't swallow, or that their tongue is swollen. Others may feel like their legs or arms want to move without their control. These are not the most common symptoms, but they can still affect those with panic disorder. The most common symptoms include:

Not everyone experiences these symptoms with each panic attack, nor do these symptoms indicate a panic attack is coming. But these are some of the most common symptoms that may occur during an attack.

Other Symptoms of Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is more than simply having a panic attack. It also causes other symptoms that may occur any time throughout the day. 

While they are not criteria for a diagnosis of Panic Disorder, many individuals may find themselves experiencing:  

Panic disorder can also cause anxiety symptoms when no logical reason for anxiety appears to be present. Additionally, the mere act of worrying about your anxiety may actually lead to further panic attacks. 

Things to Remember About Panic Attack Symptoms

It's never a bad idea to visit a doctor if you are concerned that something is wrong. Only a doctor can ensure that your symptoms are not caused by something more serious than panic attacks. However, make sure you remember the following:

Panic disorder symptoms can be overwhelming, and if left unchecked can take over your life. But it is possible to manage these symptoms by using strategies developed specifically to address your anxiety and the specific symptoms you're dealing with.

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